Hi Sake Lovers!
I am True Sake's resident wine nerd! Although that is the case, I have a huge passion for sake. I am a sucker for contrasts and extremes in flavor, which you will realize as you read through.
Tsukinokatsura Junmai “Iwai” - This sake is made by the brewery most well known for making nigori style sake legal in 1964. This Junmai is made with Iwai, a famous sake varietal rice and milled down only 20% of it’s original size. I love this sake due to it’s simplicity, yet depth of rich flavor. The flavor in this sake comes from the Iwai rice rather than the yeasts used during production. I enjoyed this bottle at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur and I recommend buying and drinking this brew someplace special!
Kikusui Funaguchi “Red” - The Funaguchi cans are extremely popular with anyone who tries them! They are an affordable and convenient way to step into the realm of namazake (unpasteurized sake). This brew is also a genshu, meaning undiluted and higher alcohol (19%). There are 4 different colored cans, all nama and genshu but with their own particular quirks. The red can is my favorite due to the extra residual sugar (SMV: -5) that accentuates and complements the zingy nama-ness and distinct layer of cocoa notes.
Tamagawa Heirloom Yamahai Muroka Nama Genshu “Red Label” - Tamagawa is an extremely interesting label made by the Kinoshita Brewery, but more specifically by the 1st ever non-Japanese Toji in existence! His name is Philip Harper hailing from Cornwall, England. He focuses on making traditional sake with a serious creative edge. So far, this is my favorite of the brews i’ve tried from Tamagawa. It’s a Junmai, as well as yamahai (naturally occurring lactic acid), muroka (non-charcoal filtered), nama (unpasteurized) and genshu (undiluted). All of those labels combine in this sake to create an explosion of seemingly contradicting flavor profiles! If you like chocolate with your nuts, mushrooms with game and zippy citrus combined with 22% alcohol content, this brew is for you! To quote Philip Harper himself, this sake is not for the “lily-livered!”
Kaika Daiginjo “Tobindori Shizuku” - What can I say about this gorgeous Daiginjo? It’s as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside! (I swear). I will admit, the unique & dazzling packaging has always caught my eye when it comes to this sake, but when I tasted it I was even more impressed. I think I assumed the sake would be subpar with such an awesome exterior. Did I mention the turquoise glass (my favorite color), the traditional crate and unusual shaped bottle? Oh! The sake… well, it’s light, delicate in body with notes of marshmallow and vanilla! This is the perfect gift for Valentine's Day (or any holiday/occasion!!).
Hanahato Kijoshu “Gorgeous Bird” - This brew satisfies my sweet/savory tooth by providing a sake alternative to my favorite sherries and madeiras. This sake has SO much character. The first time I experienced it was at Kajitsu in NYC, a restaurant which focuses on vegan Shojin cuisine. They served an elaborate mochi dessert that reminded me of rich dark chocolate cake. The pairing was Hanahato Kijoshu. It was a match made in heaven! Like the time I first tried Banyuls vin doux naturel with pot de crème. These kind of pairings prove that beverage and food pairing isn’t such a farce. Please enjoy this sake if you love the flavors of candied nuts, cocoa and savory onion.
Yamamoto Yuzu Omoi “Citrus Dream”- My last but not least sake pick is the lively and refreshing Yuzu Omoi! Not only is OMOI the name of my favorite Japanese Zakka shop, but also of my favorite yuzu citrus sake. Their are many yuzu sake out there, but most don’t stand a chance against the quality of this one! It is the perfect amount of juicy, fruity yuzu paired with high acidity and equally high sugar content. If you have never had a yuzu, it’s kind of a cross between a lemon and a tangerine. It’s a very unique citrus, especially to the American palate and the Yamamoto Yuzu Omoi showcases this fruit perfectly! By the way, one of our best customers recommended it served slightly frozen! Give it a try!
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