Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Kibo Sake: A Drink Of Hope
As September begins, I recommend that you drink a glass of Hope.
You'll find that glass of Hope coming from Japan via Oregon. SakeOne, a Sake kura ("brewery") located in Forest Grove, Oregon, also imports Sake, from Japanese breweries including Hakutsuru and Yoshinogawa. Their newest import, released just this week, was produced by the Suisen Shuzo and is named Kibo, which means "hope."
The Suisen brewery, which is over 200 years old, was located in Rikuzentakata, a coastal city in the Iwate Prefecture. On March 11, 2011, the brewery was preparing to ship their most recent Sake production when the terrible Tōhoku earthquake struck. The resulting tsunami completely destroyed the brewery, as well as killing seven brewery workers. Yasuhiko Konno, the brewery owner, was fortunate enough to escape the catastrophe with his life.
With steely determination, Konno made plans to rebuild, to not let this tragedy destroy his dreams. Initially, another brewery, Iwate Meijo, came to Konno's aid, allowing him to brew Sake at their facility in Ichinoseki while he rebuilt. Eventually, Konno opened a new brewery in the city of Ofunato, which is located close to Rikuzentakata. Their production level is not yet back to normal, and they eventually plan to move back to Rikuzentakata. At least though, they have returned to Sake production, continuing their 200+ year old legacy.
One of their newest products is Kibo, a Sake in a 180ml can ($5.99), commonly referred to as a one-cup Sake. A number of producers make 180ml cans or jars, and this sized container has ancient roots. The masu (pictured at the top) is a traditional wooden drinking cup made of sugi, Japanese cedar. It was shaped like a small box and holds about 180ml. This became the standard size for a single serving of Sake, and became known as an ichigo or just go. The standard Sake bottle became known as a yongobin, holding four ichigo, or 720ml. In comparison, the standard wine bottle holds 750ml. An ishoobin or just shou holds 1.8 liters, or 10 ichigo.
When you pop the lid of a Kibo, you'll find a small paper with a picture of a pine tree and a message: “The Miracle Pine Tree is the symbol of Rikuzentakata City, home of KIBO Saké. Of 70,000 pine trees in the coastal region, it is the only tree that survived the tsunami of March 2011. Support the ongoing efforts to rebuild the lives of the people here by donating to Mercy Corps at mercycorps.org/Japan.” Mercy Corps is a global aid agency which helps various peoples affected by disaster, and one of their projects is helping Japanese adversely affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. By purchasing this Sake, you help those in the Tōhoku region.
The Sake is produced using local Hitomebore (which means "love at first sight") rice, which has been polished down to 70%. As it is a Junmai, it is made with only four ingredients, including rice, water, yeast and koji-kin. It has a Sake Meter Value of +2, which tends to mean it is balanced between sweet and dry, and an alcohol content of 15.5%. It has a dominant aroma of steamed rice with hints of melon, both which also come out on the palate, along with a bit of green apple. It is dry, smooth, and full bodied with some pleasant umami. It is easy drinking and you could pair it with pizza or a cheese burger.
Raise a glass of Hope, support those adversely affected in Tōhoku, and enjoy some tasty Sake.