December 2011

Sake & Miwa - Top 10 Sake of 2011

Posted by Beau Timken in 2011, December, Newsletter, Sake & Miwa
Miwa The other day I was reminded that I had not written my piece for the newsletter for months. Well, my mind and body were preoccupied while I battled with an illness for most of the year. Although I had less days, weeks, and months to enjoy sake, it was always close to my heart. So the other day I was contemplating all the sake that I was fortunate enough to try this year. So, I thought I would make a list and share some special brews I had the pleasure of trying in 2011.

Here are my top ten sakes (in chronological order) that I remember strongly and enjoyed tremendously this year.
  1. Aramasa Rokugo Tokubestu Junmai (Akita)
    I consumed this sake the most. This has been "the" go-to sake for me. (Indeed I had it last night with seafood hot pot. Yum!)
  2. Negaibito Junmai Ginjo (Niigata)
    Thank you Yoshizaki-san for hand-carrying this sake from Japan. Unlike other clean style sakes from Niigata, this sake has it all - personality, flavor, and style. (Its sibling brew "Cowboy Yamahai" is coming to the U.S. soon.)
  3. Katafune Junmai (Niigata)
    I describe it as "kind". This slight sweet sake drinks great warm, so it will be my okanzake this winter. This brew is will be coming to the store any day now.
  4. Shichida Junmai Muroka (Saga)
    I called it my banana sake. Unique, well built, and Muroka - not charcoal filtered.
  5. Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku Tokubetsu Junmai Nama
    I simply lucked out on this one. Only one case of this refreshing, dry, subtle nama became available to the store. The sake was perfect for a rare, hot summer day in S.F. For an unexpected arrival like this, please check the True Sake Facebook page!
  6. Born Tokubestu Junmai (Fukiu)
    At the Joy of Sake Honolulu, this sake (in 1.8L) was VERY popular and was one of the first sakes to run out. It is an elegant brew and is very well balanced. I guess everybody else loved it, too.
  7. Ohyama Tomizu Junami (Yamagata)
    Luckily as a judge I tasted all the sake submitted to the Joy of Sake. During the evening of the public event however, this new Junmai from Kato Kahachiro Brewery stayed with me. (I thanked one of the other judges, Ishigaki-san from Yamagata, for sharing insights about this sake.) Hopefully next year this brew will come your way.
  8. Denshin Namazume Genshu Junmai (Fukui)
    I accidentally over warmed this Hiyaoroshi to the point of super hot (60C). Ouch! Feeling a little regretful for what I did, I took a sip. Guess what? It was awesome!
  9. Haguro Honjozo (Yamagata)
    Dear Aisawa-san brought a few bottles of this sake for the Sake Day 2011. Although it is imported in a ceramic jug, what he brought is more affordable version in a regular 720ml glass bottle. We all hope that this super balanced Honjozo will have a kinder price tag in the coming year.
  10. Kozaemon Tokubetsu Junmai Miyamanishiki (Gifu)
    Love, love, love. I was delighted by the perfect harmony of acidity, umami and rice sweetness this sake had to offer. I am hoping that this sake will be made available so that it can be added to the regular line up at the store. When it comes it is a must try!
Well, that's all. Have a peaceful and healthful holiday season, everyone.


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