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.
Nishida Denshu. Photo by our Spring intern, Ayumi chan!
Some quick picks from me, new picks with asterisks (updated 8/10/2023):
Gikyo Junmai Ginjo "Chivalry" - I'm not usually one to geek out on Yamadanishiki rice, but this is one fantastic bottle using the "King of Sake Rice." Classic melon up front that moves into cereal grains in the mid, with a dry tingly finish. But to be perfectly honest, I think the newspaper wrap it comes in is pretty cool. And if you're lucky, you'll get a bottle wrapped with the Nagoya real estate section. Time to start planning that big move to Japan...
Kamonishiki Nifudazake Junmai Daiginjo Nama "Tank 132" - The lore or Kamonishiki (as told to me by America's favorite Sake Samurai Beau Timken) is instupituous! Beau-san has told me that before Kamonishiki was imported to the United States, he would always manage to take a bottle home from his travels to Japan. Bars all over Japan display their "tag sake" proudly for their customers to see. And we do too. In fact, if I ever see Kamonishiki on a menu, I will immediately order it on sight. A spritzy, lively, clean, and easy sake to drink, with notes of apricot and honeydew. This is unpasteurized sake, so order at your own risk. Unless you live in a really hot place, this should be fine to ship without ice packs. From Niigata Prefecture, but it's not classic Niigata, which intrigues me!
Kamonishiki Shiboritate BY 2022 Tank 134 at Satoyama Jujo in Niigata. *Not for sale at True Sake.
Atago no Matsu Tokubetsu Honjozo "Pine of Atago" - Master Brewer aka Toji of Niizawa Shuzo, Nanami Watanabe, is only 26 years old. What were YOU doing when you were 26 years old? Me, I definitely wasn't a master sake brewer, that's for damn sure. But enough about me. Atago no Matsu, IWC Great Value Champion Sake 2022. This is a certified banger. A refreshing nose of apple, grapefruit, Greek yogurt, pine, rosemary, and buttered popcorn. Light and easy on the palate, with notes of creme brûlée. Note the short and clean finish with a touch of acid and a touch of umami. Wow. How is this only $23 bucks? As the resident cheapskate here at True Sake, this honjozo is my jam!
*Tenbu Junmai Ginjo - Not that Nishi Shuzo needs my help selling sake, but this is most definitely a huge staff pick of mine. I'm a big shochu drinker, so I've always known about Nishi Shuzo, makers of amazing imojochu. They just started making sake within the last few years, and it's fantastic. Word on the street is that Nishi Shuzo in Kagoshima is friends with Takagi Shuzo in Yamagata, and that Nishi Shuzo learned a few tips and tricks on sake-making from Takagi Shuzo (makers of Juyondai 十四代). So essentially, they're doing that Yamagata style in Kyushu. Very cool. An awesome Junmai Ginjo that is milled to 50%, which makes it technically a Junmai Daiginjo, right? I recently got a good customer of ours that typically prefers to drink Dassai, into Tenbu. If you're a Dassai drinker, you might enjoy Tenbu!
Shinkame Junmai "Holy Turtle" - Best Junmai in the shop don't @ me. Full-bodied and dry. Aged for 2 years. This sake has been coming off and on my staff picks list for quite awhile now. Shinkame is legendary. You need to try this if you like Junmai sakes. This is fantastic at room temp in a tumbler. Whisky fans would probably enjoy this too. From Saitama Prefecture.
Yuho Kimoto Junmai "Rhythm of the Centuries" - Another favorite of mine that is making it's return back to my staff picks list. Yuho makes bold and funky Ishikawa-style sake. This bottle in particular has both citrusy notes and cocoa notes. Wow. Incredibly weird stuff, in the best way possible. Owner of Mioya Shuzo Fujita Miho actually prefers this sake to be opened for months to let it oxidize. Wow! Also, don't worry about finishing this quickly, as this bottle will last for a long time, even opened. Not for the Daiginjo drinker. You've been warned.
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
Original price $45.00 - Original price $45.00Original price$45.00$45.00 - $45.00Current price $45.00| /In stock
The nose on this well-packaged Ginjo is a slick collection of grape, apple, melon, bread, grains, cereal, and powder sugar aromas. So what’s the st...View full detailsOriginal price $45.00 - Original price $45.00Original price$45.00$45.00 - $45.00Current price $45.00| /
Original price $39.00 - Original price $39.00Original price$39.00$39.00 - $39.00Current price $39.00| /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...View full detailsOriginal price $39.00 - Original price $39.00Original price$39.00$39.00 - $39.00Current price $39.00| /
Original price $23.00 - Original price $23.00Original price$23.00$23.00 - $23.00Current price $23.00| /In stock
The nose on this incredible sake is a gentle collection of strawberry, cream, sweet rice, oat, raisin, and purple plum aromas. All sake is cool, bu...View full detailsOriginal price $23.00 - Original price $23.00Original price$23.00$23.00 - $23.00Current price $23.00| /
Original price $32.00 - Original price $32.00Original price$32.00$32.00 - $32.00Current price $32.00| /In stock
The nose on this sake made in a prefecture that is known for shochu is a very cool collection of melon, stone fruit, pineapple, tangerine, black li...View full detailsOriginal price $32.00 - Original price $32.00Original price$32.00$32.00 - $32.00Current price $32.00| /
Original price $52.00 - Original price $52.00Original price$52.00$52.00 - $52.00Current price $52.00| /In stock
The nose on this Junmai that has been aged for two years is a vast collection of earthy, nutty, forest floor, steamed rice, and wet wool aromas. Ta...View full detailsOriginal price $52.00 - Original price $52.00Original price$52.00$52.00 - $52.00Current price $52.00| /
Original price $35.00 - Original price $35.00Original price$35.00$35.00 - $35.00Current price $35.00| /In stock
The nose on this traditionally made brew is a unique collection of nutty, earthy, leather, roasted rice, and sour lemon tones. This is a very tasty...View full detailsOriginal price $35.00 - Original price $35.00Original price$35.00$35.00 - $35.00Current price $35.00| /