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Chris

My name is Chris Cabrera aka CABS aka @damncabs and I've been in the sake industry since 2015. I've been to Japan a handful of times, and was able to visit various breweries and tasting rooms, as well as attend my first ever Sake no Jin in Niigata. 

In 2018 under the tutelage of Sake Samurai Toshio Ueno, I am also a Sake Adviser certified by the Sake School of America (via the Sake Service Institute in Japan).

In April 2021, I've earned my Sake Scholar certification under the guidance of Sake Samurai, Michael Tremblay.

In November 2021, I've earned my Level 3 Award in Sake from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust taught by Jesse Pugach and KJ Rizzo.

In July 2022, I've earned my Certified Sake Professional certification with the world’s leading non-Japanese sake expert, Sake Samurai, and Sake Evangelist, John Gauntner.


Nishida Denshu. Photo by our Spring intern, Ayumi chan!


Some quick picks from me, new picks with asterisks (updated 2/1/2024): 

Banshu Ikkon Junmai Ginjo "Super Dry" - Simple, yet elegant, Sanyohai Shuzo, makers of Banshu Ikkon, came through with an easy-drinking dry Junmai Ginjo using the best Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo. Grade A, just in case you were curious. Also, milled to 55% which is my favorite seimaibuai (it's a thing). Bright and light, with a nice dry white peppery finish, this pairs beautifully with all kinds of food, but definitely great with something off the grill. If you're a Suigei drinker, you should graduate to Banshu Ikkon, for sure. From Hyogo Prefecture.


Shuho Junmai Daiginjo Chokarakuchi "Awesome" - Our customers love their dry Daiginjos. And we can only recommend Kubota Manju so many times, amirite? This is a unanimous staff pick here at True Sake and with great reason. It's dry, but not too dry, even though the label says it's "chokarakuchi", which means pretty damn dry. Clean, lively, with a quick and smooth white pepper finish. And some great fruity flavors such as grape, apple, kiwi, and dried pear too. This would be a killer bottle to bring to your favorite omakase sushi restaurant. If you like the Drunken Whale sake, then you'll enjoy this too. From Yamagata Prefecture.


*Kidoizumi Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Muroka Nama Genshu "Hanafubuki" - A fantastic brew with a cult-like following from Chiba Prefecture. Made using rice from Aomori Prefecture, this brew is full-bodied and velvety, with great acidity and layers of umami. Great with food! Fifth Generation Master Brewer Hayato Shoji implements old brewing techniques and natural fermentation, which is a hit with the "natty sake" folks. I will say though that "Hanafubuki" is not as wild as it sounds. Of the offerings from importer Yoigokochi in the Netherlands, this sake actually has more restraint, which really makes this brew shine. Not for the ultra Daiginjo lover, but for the foodie that likes to explore and try new things.


Shishi no Sato Junmai Ginjo "Shun" - I first heard about this brewery when I read Hannah Kirshner's book "Water, Wood, and Wild Things." The author talks about her time at a brewery in Ishikawa Prefecture called Matsuura Shuzo, makers of Shishi no Sato. Very small batch, "Shun" is smooth, light, bright, and clean with a slight spritz. Very crisp with a quick finish. Pear, green apple, young mango, with some green tea and green grape flavors as well. Dry, but also complex. This sake is for those that have had it all, and are looking for something a bit more challenging. Great with your favorite izakaya bar foods.

 

*Kinmon Akita X3 Amairo Aged Junmai Genshu - If you like Shinkame, then you'll love this. A fantastic Aged Junmai Genshu from Akita Prefecture that uses three times the amount of koji mold than your usual sake. What does that mean for you, the end user? This creates a sake rich with umami and nutty flavors, with great brightness and acidity. Aged for three years (one more year than the Shinkame btw), this sake is absolutely world-class. Complex and velvety, with a flavor field of flan, honey, root beer, etc. This is chess not checkers! Highly recommended. Great at all three temperatures, but shines room temp or even warm. We had this with a Sicilian pizza at Pizzeria Da Laura in Berkeley and it was absolutely killer.


Fukumimi Junmai Genshu - Now that the Fall season sweater weather is upon us, it's time to warm some delicious sake! Fukumimi Junmai Genshu is the perfect candidate for warming sake. Notes of rum raisin all day, with layers of apple pie, honey, and sesame candy as well. Great chilled, but really shines room temp, and especially warm. Again, with the cooler temperatures hitting the San Francisco Bay Area, this pairs well with heartier, more comforting dishes like stews, pastas, Chinese cuisine, etc. I'd take this to Wojia on San Pablo (proud to live in the East Bay btw) in a heartbeat. Fukugen Shuzo is a small batch producer from Nagano, Japan aka The Japanese Alps. Nagano Prefecture is known for fuller-bodied sake and Fukumimi Junmai Genshu definitely checks off that box.

 

With all that being said, the best way to learn about sake is to drink more sake, pay attention, take notes, and remember what you like and don't like. There's A LOT of misinformation out there on the internet (how ironic, since you're reading my list on the internet), but it's up to you to do your due diligence, and fine tune your sake preferences that align with your taste buds. Cheers! -Chris

 


An ad at Niigata's Echigo-Yuzawa Station featuring Reruhi-San, who looks like Theodor Von Lerch, an Austro-Hungarian general who introduced skiing to Japan.


Moerenuma Park (モエレ沼公園) Sapporo, Hokkaido


At Niseko Shuzo in Hokkaido, where the President insisted on this photo op, even though I just wanted to be a customer. My friend spilled the beans that I worked in the sake industry, which in hindsight, created this fun, awkward moment.
  • Original price $39.00 - Original price $39.00
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    Banshu Ikkon Junmai Ginjo "Super Dry"

    bright, grapefruit, dry.
    In stock

    The nose on this Hyogo brew is a slick collection of Asian apple, cinnamon, Sprite™, pear, steamed rice, and minerals. Are you ready for a “perform...

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    Shuho Junmai Daiginjo Karakuchi "Awesome"

    dry, clean, crisp.
    In stock

    The nose on this dry Daiginjo is a cool collection of grape, lychee, mango, floral, and mineral aromas. We’ve been waiting for a long time to see a...

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    Kidoizumi Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Muroka Nama Genshu "Hanafubuki"

    high acid, complex, elegant.
    In stock

    *NOTE: This sake is unpasteurized. We can ship unpasteurized sake, however it is at the customer's discretion. It's best to avoid shipping unpasteu...

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    Shishi no Sato Shun Junmai Ginjo "Moments"

    lean, restrained, dry.
    In stock

    The nose on this sake that is called “Moments” is world class and features an array of melon, lime, grape, papaya, mochi, cake icing, ginger, and g...

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    Kinmon Akita X3 Amairo Junmai Genshu

    aged, umami, world class.
    In stock

    The nose on this triple koji sake is a stunning collection of sherry, rum raisin, toasted pecans, orange peel, maple syrup, sarsaparilla, candied n...

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    Fukumimi Junmai Genshu

    true sake selection #3!
    In stock

    The nose on this two year aged sake is a superb collection of butter rum, cooked apple, cocoa, orange, peach, caramel, shiitake mushroom, malt, and...

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