Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hiraizumi Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai

Time for another review of a Saké I purchased from Sakaya in New York City, a recommendation of Rick, one of the store owners. I have been yet to be disappointed by any of the Saké I have bought there.

The Hiraizumi "Splashing Spring Water" Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai ($44.99) is from the Tohoku region of the Akita Prefecture. The brewery was founded in 1487, and may be the third oldest brewery in Japan. It is a rather small brewery and specializes in the production of Yamahai.

As I have mentioned before, Yamahai Saké uses native yeasts, those that exist in the air of the brewery. It is riskier to make this type as you never know what you might end up with. It is also more labor intensive. It is estimated that less than 1% of all Saké is made in this style. Thus, this type of Saké is unlikely to be found in many local wine stores and you might have to hunt a bit for it.

The rice, Miyama Nishiki, for this Saké was polished to 58% and it has an alcohol content of 15.5%. It also has a Saké Meter Value of +4, which means it tends to be more dry. I was expecting more of an earthy flavor in this Saké but I was surprised when I found it to be very smooth and more refined. Its smell was more subdued as well, with just hints of floral and peach notes. It had a bit of a creamy texture and more subtle flavors with plenty of acidity. It was a more mellow Saké that really pleased me and which even newcomers to Saké should enjoy.

Granted, it is pricey for those new to Saké, but I strongly think you would enjoy this quality Saké and maybe it will make you a convert.