Twitter has long been used for virtual wine tastings and it is about time that it started to be used for virtual Saké tastings as well. Last Thursday, the good people of SakéOne, a Saké brewery in Oregon, held their first virtual tasting and I eagerly participated, wanting to connect with other Saké aficianados. (On Twitter, follow SakéOne.)
For the tasting event, the participants were supposed to drink the G Joy Junmai Ginjo Genshu ($20/750ml). Then, for a two-hour span, we got to discuss this Saké as well as discuss Saké in general. It was a fun time and hopefully future tastings will include even more participants.
The rice used to make the G Joy is Calrose, a type of japonica medium-grain rice developed in California in the early 1970s. The Calrose for the G Joy is grown in Sacramento Valley. This is not a Sakamai, a Saké rice, but SakéOne states: "Honestly, it is what's available to us. There are a few "better" sake rice but not grown in the volume we need." With the quality of the G Joy, one would not even know they don't use a Sakamai. As this is a Ginjo, the rice has been polished to 60%.
The yeast used is a blend of 1801 and 1701, both foamless yeasts. As it is a Genshu, it is undiluted and has an alcohol content of 18%. The G Joy is produced year round and it takes about a month to make a batch, prior to filtering and aging. It is then aged for about ten months, has an SMV of +3, and they make about 2000 cases annually. This Saké has been specifically crafted for both the American palate as well as food lovers. SakéOne states: "Our intent is to make the best sake with the ingredients available."
I found the G Joy to have a very fruity nose, some melon and pear. On the palate, it is rich and creamy with flavors of melon, pear and even some pineapple. The finish is fairly long and smooth with hints of spice at the end. It is an easy Saké to enjoy, for both newbies and Saké lovers, though the alcohol is prominent and some people may not prefer that style.
This is a food friendly Saké and I enjoyed some with garlic steak tips. It is a rich enough to stand up to the beef and the garlic also did not cause any issues. The fruit flavors still came out and the food helped to balance out the alcohol. I later had some of the Saké with potato sticks, and it stood up to the saltiness of the sticks. I am sure it would pair well with a variety of foods, and not just Asian cuisine. People need to understand the versatility of Saké with so many different cuisines.
I also think this would be an excellent Saké for making cocktails. Why not use it instead of vodka, rum or gin in your favorite cocktail? One advantage is that it usually will have at least half the alcohol of those spirits, making your cocktail less alcoholic. You can get some cocktail recipes on the SakéOne website.
In addition, the G Joy is a good value at only $20, especially for Ginjo quality. It seemed like everyone participating in the virtual tasting enjoyed the Saké. SakéOne did a very good job of answering questions about the G Joy and the event ran smoothly. I look forward to future virtual tastings and hope more join in the next time.