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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 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 3/15/2024): 

*Gakki Masamune Junmai "Junjo" - A vibrant killer Junmai sake from Oki Daikichi Honten in Fukushima Prefecture. These guys are killing it right now. The Junmai is super fun and easy drinking. It's got nice and refreshing flavors such as cantaloupe and Asian pear. I will say that this is somewhat obscure and hard to find here in America, because it's definitely BIG IN JAPAN. Snag this while you can, because it won't be here forever. Light and crisp, I suggest this drinking this to you favorite flute soundtrack.


*Isojiman Honjozo - Isojiman Premium Sake Brewing Co. is essentially your favorite sake brewery's favorite sake. These guys are legendary. Using Grade A Yamada Nishiki rice, you get a great sake with great body, texture, and feeling. Definitely not too sweet. Definitely not too try. Just, good old easy drinking sake. I could hunker down with this sake at Ippuku in Berkeley, California with ease. Honjozo sakes have a bad reputation here in America, which is very unfortunate. As a classification, some of my absolute favorite sakes are Honjozo. Not everything has to be a hyper milled Daiginjo. From Shizuoka Prefecture. 


*Aizu Homare Junmai Ginjo Yamadanishiki 60 "Karahashi"- Remember how much I love Atago Honjozo? Not saying that this is the next Atago. But, this is definitely one of the best "bangs for your bucks" in the shop. An International Wine Challenge gold medal winner in the the Junmai Ginjo category, for $23 USD? How is this even possible? I'm a sucker for good deals and for good コスパ aka cost performance. Notes of apples and tropical fruits, with great acidity and a crisp finish, this Junmai Ginjo from Homare Sake Brewery in Fukushima Prefecture is absolutely outstanding.


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 $31.00 - Original price $31.00
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    Gakki Masamune Junmai "Junjo"

    66%, bright, great with yakitori.
    Out of stock

    The nose on this extremely hard to get Junmai has a vivid collection of melon, Asian pear, grape, apricot, blueberry, and cantaloupe aromas. Are yo...

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  • Original price $32.00 - Original price $32.00
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    Isojiman Honjozo "Pride of the Seashore"

    if you know, you know.
    In stock

    The nose on this Honjozo made with spring water from the Minami Alps, is a solid collection of mineral, cherry, peach, grapefruit, green bamboo, an...

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    Original price $32.00 - Original price $32.00
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  • Original price $23.00 - Original price $23.00
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    Aizu Homare Junmai Ginjo Yamadanishiki 60 "Karahashi"

    apples, refreshing, crisp.
    In stock

    From the importer Wismettac fka Nishimoto: Crafted with a hundred percent Hyogo Prefecture's Yamada Nishiki rice and meticulously brewed using the ...

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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.
    Low 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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    Original price $35.00 - Original price $35.00
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