Welcome to the first Saké Sunday, my new weekly salute to Japanese Saké! Each Sunday, I will try to post about Saké, maybe some fun facts or Saké reviews. I hope that these posts encourage you to try some good chilled Saké, to see the wonders of this glorious drink.
Today I am going to post some Saké tasting reviews. While at the Boston Wine Expo yesterday, I had the opportunity to taste six interesting and different Sakés. I was very glad to see some Saké being shown at the Expo. All of these are imported by New York Mutual Trading, Inc. They also import Shochu and various Japanese foods. Locally, Ruby Wines distributes their Saké.
Dassai Niwari Sambu Junmai Daiginjo: 77% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. You will find few, if any, Saké that has a higher polishing rate. The Saké has a SMV of +4 and an acidity of 1.3. The brewery is Asahi in the Yamaguchi prefecture. This was an exceptional Saké with subtle fruit flavors and a floral aroma. It has a delicate and complex taste and a very long finish. This is an expensive Saké but well worth the purchase to the Saké aficianado.
Dassai 50 "Otter Fest" Junmai Ginjo: 50% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. That would qualify it as a Daiginjo but they do not label it as such. The Saké has a SMV of +3 and an acidity of 1.5. The brewery is Asahi in the Yamaguchi prefecture. This Saké had a fruity nose and exquisite fruity flavors on the palate. A very easy drinking Saké that I could have sat and finished the entire bottle. There was also the merest hint of anise, a rare flavor in Saké. This would be a good Saké for people to try who have not had Saké before as its pleasant flavors should not offend anyone.
Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai: 45% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. The Saké has a SMV of +5 and an acidity of 1.5. The brewery is Nanbu Bijin in the Iwate prefecture. Last year's rice harvest was exceptional good. This Saké was clean, smooth and refreshing. It was a more full-bodied Saké and intended to be accompanied by food. Another excellent Saké that should please many people.
Shirakabegura "Kimoto" Tokubetsu Junmai: 40% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. The Saké has a SMV of +3 and an acidity of 1.3. The brewery is Shirakabegura in the Hyogo prefecture. This Saké actually is aged, preserved for low temperatures for three years in "kame," a ceramic cask. Most Saké is made using lactic acid to accelerate the fermentation process but the Kimoto does not, relying on traditional, old-style methods. This has a more earthy/gamey aroma that also comes through on the palate. It is full bodied and rich. There are more pronounced rice flavors and it a Saké for those who already enjoy it. This is note a beginner's Saké. It was interesting though I think it might be best with the right food pairing.
Shirakabegura Tokubetsu Junmai: 40% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. The Saké has a SMV of +2 and an acidity of 1.6. The brewery is Shirakabegura in the Hyogo prefecture. This Saké seemed to have a bit more sweetness than the others. Its flavors were all more subdued. It was full bodied and rich but lacked any standout attributes. It was ok but did not impress me as the other Saké had.
Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo Nama Genshu: 30% of the rice for this Saké has been polished away. The Saké has a SMV of +2 and an acidity of 1.6. The brewery is Kikusui in the Niigata prefecture. This Saké comes in a small can! There is a good reason for that. Saké is vulnerable to light and the can blocks all such damaging light. There is a plastic lining in the can that also prevents the Saké from acquiring a metal flavor. As this is a Namazake, it is not pastreurized so it should be drunk soon after purchase. Plus, as a Genshu, it has about a 19% alcohol content, higher than most other Saké. It has a lively, crisp and fresh taste with definite rice flavors. It has somewhat of a raw flavor compared to pasteurized Saké and I find it appealing.