Sake Luck – Trendy Takachiyo Brewery Uses True Sake To Test Market
I’ve mentioned it many times before, True Sake is and always has been used as a “testing” ground by certain sake makers. They like using our customer base to determine which sakes may do well in the west. I call this lucky! But we’ve worked pretty hard to put ourselves in a position to be lucky. Yet, in the end it’s better to be lucky than good right?
The Takachiyo brewery in Niigata is one of the most popular brewing teams in Japan at the moment. Not a day goes by that you won’t see their distinctive labeled bottles on Instagram from some cool sake bar in all parts of Japan. They are trendy to say the least. And they are quite good, so let’s not forget that! The bottom line is that it is hard to get their product on account of their popularity, so I feel very lucky that they have taken on a desire to export and have “used” us in the process!
This may sound a little familiar, we have already offered two versions of their unique sakes called “Chapters” before and their sakes were also poured at Sake Day last year! (Also another testing ground for sakes in the west!) The first Chapters that we received were Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, and they have since sold out at the store. But luck once again prevails as you now have the ability to taste Chapters 4 through 7, which we just stocked in our True Sake shelves.
But wait? What are Takachiyo Chapters? In a word, they are pure sake exploration in sake form! Takachiyo makes a series of nama (unpasteurized) sakes exactly the same way using the exact same milling and brewing process with only the rice varietal being the different aspect. That’s it! Different rice, same sake, and in a bunch of different ways! But why? From my perspective, it is a way to isolate the flavor of sake brewing rice and consumption rice period. They literally control all of the ingredients and environments to produce the isolated flavor, feeling and “action” of the specific rice varietal itself. Pretty cool huh? I mean rice is the essence of sake right, so why not try to determine exactly what it brings to the table?
This experiment has been done by other breweries namely by my friend Masao Aisawa at Takenotsuyu who did the exact same thing, but with pasteurized sakes. That’s what makes the Takachiyo Chapters so unique. They are living and expressing rice in the bottle!
So behold a very limited release of four sakes from Takachiyo Brewery that are called Chapters 4 – 5 – 6 – 7. Each is made in the same manner with a milling rate of 59%, with the same water, koji, and yeast 1801. The only difference is the sake uses a different rice varietal for each Muroka Junmai Ginjo Nama. We have a very limited supply for each sake, so I recommend jumping on these brews ASAP! Why? Because they are fascinating and fun. They literally are an education in bottles and you are the student. They also use some rice varietals that I have never tried before, which is awesome. So come to True Sake soon and geek out on some very popular sakes in Japan that are right here in your kitchen.
Takachiyo Chapter 4 “Hanafubuki”
From Niigata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.5
This next sake from Takachiyo, which makes sakes exactly the same way except for using a different rice varietal, has a lively nose filled with strawberry, vanilla, sugared nuts, and grape aromas. No. 4 is zesty, bright, brash and very lively like a fresh unpasteurized sake. It is loaded with creamy and tart flavors that jump around on the crisp flow. Look for hints of citrus, ripe peach, strawberry, plums and cooked cherries. Sounds like a lot and it is, and that’s what makes these sakes special. They have so many levels and layers to play with. The Hanafubuki rice makes this version drink very lively and very fun. WORD: Bright WINE: Zesty Reds/Acidic Whites BEER: Zesty Ales FOODS: More for drinking exploration but would handle spice, large complex flavors, and cheese plates.
Takachiyo Chapter 5 “Morinokumasan”
From Niigata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu. SMV: +1 Acidity: 1.6
The nose on the this sake, which is part of a series that can only be found outside of Japan at True Sake, has an extremely interesting collection of koji rice, melon, banana bread, and white grape aromas. No. 5 is smooth, round, rich, and has a little background zesty kick to it. It is bright, but not brash with much more balance and control in the mouth-feel. Look for flavors such as Devil’s Food Cake, fruit compote, coconut, and lots of lime and citrus. The strength in this brew rests in the richness of the flavors and the tingle of a unique “Margarita” play. The Morinokumasan rice varietal (which is a first at TS) makes this version of Chapters drink rich and round with a solid balance for a crazy nama! WORD: Rich WINE: Deep Reds/Full-Bodied Whites BEER:Creamy Belgians FOODS: More for drinking exploration, but would handle salty and savory grill fare.
Takachiyo Chapter 6 “Miyamanishiki”
From Niigata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.6
Another sake from the very cultish Takachiyo, which makes this series of sakes exactly the same way except for using a different rice varietal for each separate brew has a very curious nose filled with honey, rice, oats/grains, and honeydew melon aromas. No. 6 is chewy, viscous, smooth, and dry. Look for rich roasted components of rice, toast, and honey. There is a very curious deep minerality that comes forth as the fluid warms with other hints of papaya and nuts. Sound crazy right? But it all fits together in a very deep and complex brew that is one of those head scratchers that totally appeals to sake geeks who love to explore the unknown. The strength of this brew rests in the questions that come forth with each sip. Did I just taste “Bit-O-Honey” the candy bar? The Miyamanishiki rice varietal makes this version of Chapters drink very mysteriously and hard to pin down. WORD: Complex WINE:Professional Reds/Mineral Whites BEER: Deep Belgians FOODS: More for drinking exploration, but would go with meat, game, and fowl.
Takachiyo Chapter 7 “Omachi”
From Niigata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu. SMV: -2 Acidity: 1.5
The nose on the this sake, which is part of a series that can only be found outside of Japan at True Sake, has a unique nose filled with roasted rice, toasted wheat bread, corn, cream, and yeasty rice aromas. No. 7 is rich, round, expansive, and savory. Be on the lookout for very rich and solid flavors such as marshmallow, sourdough bread, sushi rice, and very ripe apricot. This is a beefy sake with meaty and rich action all over the place. There is a refreshing astringency play (Shibumi) that brings all of the roasted and full-bodied flavors together. The strength of this “Chapter” is the undying richness that can almost be described as a reduction in cooking terms. The Omachi rice varietal manifests itself in the richness and solid like nature of this full-bodied nama sake. WORD: Solid WINE: Huge Reds/Vast Whites BEER: Stouts FOODS: More for drinking exploration, but would work wonders with steak, steak, steak!