I am extremely pleased that John Gauntner, a famed Saké authority and educator, has chosen to participate in Wine Blogging Wednesday #59! John lives in Japan, working and interacting in the Saké industry. The Japanese media refers to him as the "Saké Dendoushi" ("Saké Evangelist"), for his intense devotion to the promotion of Saké.
He has several books about Saké, including his latest: Saké's Hidden Stories: The Personalities, Philosophies, and Tricks-of-the-Trade Behind the Brew. I recently reviewed that book and really loved it.
John has chosen to review a new Saké from Hakkaisan, and here is his review.
"Hakkaisan from Niigata recently released a tokubetsu junmai-shu, a relatively young sake just brewed this spring, released in June, so laid down a scant two months. It was (note past tense!) a genshu, but the alcohol was a lowish-for-genshu 18%.
I was told it was the first time Hakkaisan made such a sake, as they do not make junmai-shu (excluding of course the ginjo range). They also only made a small amount and presold it, so that it all disappeared instantly. I was part of that pre-order frenzy and scored a small bottle.
How'd it taste? Rich, young, tight, clean and balanced. It was, on one hand, very much a Hakkaisan product, in that it had nothing even resembling off flavors or roughness. Very clean and bright. But it also had much more fullness than most of their products, and was lower in acidity than most junmai-shu.
Also, two more things made it signficant. One, the slightly higher alcohol boosted both impact and a little sweetness. Two, the choice of yeasts. I had to look this up on the internet and the research confirmed my "suspicion" that they used yeast #1801, giving it this lovely berry-like aroma yet plenty of balance. (The actually blended #1001 and 1801, for those that really care...).
More relevant to drinkers, it was fruity in the mid-palate in both flavor and aromas but not ostentatious or overly aromatic. Mostly berry-like stuff: cranberry, raspberry, a bit of apple too I guess.
...and it finished tightly, cleanly and definitely. Lovely overall, if