September 2011

Sake Economics - Ishobin = The Value Sake Bottle

Posted by Beau Timken in 2011, Newsletter, September
As I am writing this the stock market just crashed 630 points. Gulp! And as I am writing this the Japanese Yen just gets "stubbornly" stronger versus the dollar despite the Japanese government selling trillions of Yen to cool it down. What does this mean to you my dear sake fans? It means sake ain't getting any cheaper - said in my best car salesman's voice. So act now! (Just couldn't resist the last sentence - also said in the same voice.)

In a word, sake is expensive. Perhaps too expensive in some cases, and that is why Miwa and I have been eliminating some sakes that have gone up too much in price and simply are not worth the price to quality ratio. We won't sell a sake for $36 if the quality of the brew is roughly pegged at the $22 range. That does not give sake a good name.

We are constantly on the lookout for values from our distributors and importers, and we try to pass these on to you guys. And of course we will never give up our Secret Word Sake (see the bottom of this newsletter). That said, Miwa always lists the sakes that are on some form of sale at the store in the "Specials" section of the newsletter. It's really a good deal and more people should take advantage of them. There is, however, one way to find value at all times at True Sake. It's called an "Ishobin," but you may think of it as 60 fluid ounces of liquid love. Yup! Those huge "magnum" looking bottles are called Ishobins and they contain 1.8L of sake in each bottle. The smaller wine-sized bottles of sake are called "Yongobin" and they hold 24 fluid ounces. If my math is correct two Yongobins equates to 48 ounces, which is still 12 ounces less than the mighty ishobin.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's the economy stoopid! Well, actually it's the economics of it. Ishobins are priced very well versus the 720ml bottles. And therein rests your value. You get more bang for the buck with the 1.8L bottles. (That is why restaurants love selling sake from Ishobins - more zen for the yen!)

Currently we have 36 different Ishobins in the store and we have access to perhaps 50 others. And before you state the obvious, "But I can't drink all of that!" line remember two things. First you don't have to slug it down in a night. It's not wine. It's not going to oxidize with wine-like speed. It's pasteurized and can remain in your fridge from 2-3 weeks before you may notice some "aging." (But if "aging" does occur, you can heat the sake up rather than chucking it.) Secondly, don't think about 2 ounce pours. Pour your sake in wine quantities - 5 or 6 oz pours. In this case your 60 fluid ounces seem far more "doable."

And talk about a party animal! Ishobins are killer for parties. And trust me when I tell you that when you show up at a party with a monster bottle of sake you immediately become the talk of the party. Oh well perhaps the sake becomes the talk of the party, and you must play the sake's wingman or wingwoman.

Herewith are some examples of the "value" of an ishobin:
  • Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai: $18 (720ml) / $30 (1.8L)
  • Otokoyama Tokubetsu Junmai: $27 (720ml) / $52 (1.8L)
  • Masumi Junmai: $28 (720ml) / $57 (1.8L)
  • Bishonen Junmai Ginjo: $21 (720ml) / $48 (1.8L)
  • Aramasa Junmai: $28 (720ml) / $57 (1.8L)
  • Dewazakura Oka Ginjo: $34 (720ml) / $68 (1.8L)
  • Kikusui Junmai Ginjo: $29 (720ml) / $56 (1.8L)
  • Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo: $46 (720ml) / $96 (1.8L)
  • Tsukasabotan Tokubetsu Junmai: $44 (720ml) / $66 (1.8L)
  • Shirataki Jozen Junmai Ginjo: $39 (720ml) / $74 (1.8L)
What's the point? As the picture states "Don't Be A Lightweight" It's a great way to get more sake at a good price point. And don't feel as if it will go bad in the bottle. You'll go bad before your sake will!

Go big or go home........


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