True Sake in San Francisco. The Kuro Kabuto Junmai Daiginjo ($32) is produced by the Ikekame Shuzo Co. in the Fukuoka prefecture. It has a SMV of -2 and an Acidity of 2.0. I was unable to determine the type of rice used or the exact rice polishing rate, though at least 50% of the rice must have been polished to make it a Daiginjo. The phrase "kuro kabuto" translates as "black helmet," which reflects the fact that when you view black koji, a special ingredient in this sake, under a microscope, it looks like it is wearing a black helmet.
Koji-kin is a mold used in production of sake, as well as other alcohols like shochu and awamori. In addition, koji-kin is used to produce many fermented food products in Japan. In sake brewing, koji mold is used to transform the starch in rice into sugar, so the yeast can ferment the sugars into alcohol. Koji mold comes in various colors, and sake is almost always made with ki-koji, yellow koji. In comparison, shochu is usually made with shiro-koji, white koji, while awamori is usually made with kuro-koji, black koji.
The enzymes, acids and such produced by these different colored koji molds make a significant difference in the final product. For example, black koji generates very high amounts of citric acid, which can destroy the delicate flavors of many sakes. So it is usually not used in its production, except that the Kuro Kabuto has taken on the challenge, trying to produce a quality sake despite the difficulties of using black mold.
I think they succeeded with this sake, which presents with both a fruity aroma and taste. The fruit flavors are prominent without being over the top, delicious tart apple, lush orange, and ripe melon. Though there is a mild sweetness to the taste, there is plenty of acidity which balances it out. It is smooth and easy drinking, with a pleasant richness to it, and should appeal to newcomers to sake, as well as sake lovers. And for a Daiginjo, it is a very good value at this price.