Sake Scenes – HEAVENSAKE
Every now and then new importing companies come on line with new products representing new breweries that have not yet exported out of Japan. Also, every once in a while new “sake endeavors” come to market with new designs and expressions of sake. Usually these efforts are pitched towards high-end sakes for high-end restaurants. And HEAVENSAKE is more similar to the later.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Japan several times this year and on two occasions I bumped into the guys who represent HEAVENSAKE. I had not heard of their efforts, because it is an initiative that started in Europe, but has now traveled to the US. What caught my attention was that they didn’t have their own brewery, but were in bed with two uber popular breweries that have HUGE brand recognition in Japan and outside of Japan. Urakasumi and Dassai are two powerhouse sake breweries run by great families and have splendid roots in the sake industry.
So yes! I was quite interested to learn about their endeavor even though I am not too keen on the concept of making sake solely for very high-end usage. I’m a sake purist and not a snob so I love efforts to take sake to new places using new packaging designs and sake types. And I have been saying for almost 20 years that the sake industry needed a lot of help to promote and market sake. This is a marketing effort that is smart enough to have killer fluid inside the bottles. We have seen several initiatives in the US of sake being packaged beautifully, but the fluid wasn’t that special. So looks do count, but the sake itself is the most important aspect of a program that wants to last a long time. HEAVENSAKE has the legs!
Here are some snippets from their website that describe their philosophy and overall plan:
A FRANCO-JAPANESE CREATION
By Regis Camus
HEAVENSAKE is a composition by acclaimed Champagne cellar master, Regis Camus, in collaboration with Japan’s most respected sake houses.
HEAVENSAKE's French flair is the art of Regis Camus, a multi award-winning cellar master. Camus has lent his unrivalled blending skills to both expressions of HEAVENSAKE, pioneering a change in the tradition of sake-making. A true virtuoso, Camus forged a union between two of the world’s most discerning cultures. Japanese tradition of excellence is delivered by two leaders in the centenary old craft of sake brewing. The houses of Dassai (Junmai Daiginjo) and Urakasumi (Junmai Ginjo) were chosen to help realise the vision of HEAVENSAKE. Their expertise, and dedication to perfection, set the grounds for the creation of a drink meeting the highest standards of purity and refinement.
A BETTER HIGH
The vision behind HEAVENSAKE is to offer the world’s purest alcohol drink. Low acidity, combined with the lack of sulphites provides a unique experience for body and mind, deemed “A BETTER HIGH”.
HEAVENSAKE first touched base in the US in NYC, and that is when I reached out to the team to see if we could get some product in SF. The answer was “oui”! And so we brought their sakes into the True Sake portfolio last month. Our team had one of our tastings and we all liked certain qualities about each of the brews. Overall the sakes spoke for themselves and that is ALL that matters to us. But! The packaging sure does help. When we did our tasting we opened several extra bottles from Dassai and Urakasumi to see of these sakes were the same as Urakasumi Zen and Dassai 39 or 23. Yes! Breweries will do that. They will make a sake that they sell under their brand name, and then will use the same fluid for a sake that is private labeled. But this is not the case with Heaven.
Both brews have their strengths and if you are a fan of either of these breweries then you will LOVE these expressions made for HEAVENSAKE.
HeavenSake “Blue Bottle” $48/720ml
From Miyagi Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.5
The nose on this private labeled sake made by the Urakasumi brewery has a gentle collection of sweet rice, lemon peel, cocoa and crème brûlée aromas. Talk about an elegant and supremely balanced Junmai Ginjo! This heavenly sake is not your typical fruity Ginjo, rather it plays in the rich flavor zone of sweet rice, honeycomb, nougat, white raisin, and crème brûlée flavors on a fluid that is as smooth as velvet. There are earthy elements that expand as the fluid warms, and a white wine glass brings forth the most flavor and feeling. Look for hints of creamy flavors and enjoy this sake that has one of the best looking bottles in the sake biz. WORD: Smooth WINE: Fat reds/Rich whites BEER: Belgian Ales FOODS: Full-bodied cuisines that are savory and creamy.
HeavenSake “Black Bottle” $106/720ml
From Yamaguchi Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this private labeled sake made by the Dassai brewery has a loaded nose with grape, pear, apple, and lush tropical fruit aromas. Behold a profoundly expressive Junmai Daiginjo that reminds sake drinkers that rice and water can truly drink like a tropical fruit storm. How do they do it? I don’t know, but I do know that you will need to bring your favorite fruit basket to collect all of the fruit expression flavors that are found on a slippery and silky fluid flow. Look for blueberry, white grape, apple, cooked pear, and pineapple flavors with a very subtle banana note that all play perfectly with a mineral kick! I cannot stop smiling when I drink this sake, because it is a lush, semi-chewy, and vivid drinking experience that works wonders in a white wine glass. WORD: Lush WINE: Fruity reds/Mineral whites BEER: Creamy ales FOODS: Champagne fare.