Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wokka Saki: Saké & Vodka

I love both Saké and Vodka so what would a blend of the two produce? Offhand, it seems like a winning combination. But what is the reality?

Recently, while dining at Haru I tasted their Sakétini, a combination of Vodka, Saké and Plum wine. I enjoyed the Sakétini, the Saké and Vodka blending well. So there was some proof that I was correct.

And now I have tested that combination once again. Would I find more support? Or would I find an unflattering mix?

Wokka Saki is a new liquor, a combination of Vodka, Saké and Asian fruits. Tim Day created Wokka (Japanese for "vodka") Saki in 2002. He was inspired by the legendary Juhyo, or "snow monsters" of Mount Zao in Japan.

Each year, between January and March, potent winds from the west, across the Siberian plains, blow across the Sea of Japan. The wind becomes heavy with frozen vapor before striking the coast and rising over the Asahi Mountains. Mount Zao is covered by many giant conifers and these winds bring much snow and ice which cover the trees. The shape of the trees is distorted by the snow and ice and they seem to resemble monsters. These are called Juhyo and there is even an annual "snow monster" festival. So for Wokka Saki, western wine (represented by the Vodka) thus meet the eastern environment (represented by the Saké).

Tim Day sought out a master blender to help him create Wokka Saki. After about 500 attempts, they created Wokka Saki. Wokka Saki is a blend of micro-distilled British wheat vodka (80%), premium Honjozo Saké (20%), and a subtle flavor of Asian fruit. It is 80 proof, like most Vodkas. Day won't say which specific Asian fruits are added to the blend.

Production takes place at the 200 year old Thames Distillery in London under the control of master distiller, Charles Maxwell. The Vodka is first microdistilled in a single, stainless steel pot still. This 400 liter pot still is known as "Tom Thumb." The Vodka is then blended with Saké and a bit of Asian fruit added.

I bought a bottle of Wokka Saki at Astor Wines & Spirits in New York City. I placed the bottle in the freezer and took it out the other night to try it. The Wokka was thick and almost looked syrupy from having been in the freezer. It was a very smooth drink without any bite. There was a prominent taste of nectarine and a slighter tinge of maybe peach. Unlike some other flavored Vodkas, the fruit flavors were not overly sweet or cloying. Instead, you got the fruit flavors without a sugar rush. I really do not think you taste the Saké but then the Wokka is predominantly Vodka. But the addition of the Saké may actually serve to mellow the Vodka.

This is probably one of the best flavored Vodkas I have had in sometime. It could be drank on the rocks, or combined into a cocktail. I am sure the flavor of the Wokka would complement many different cocktails. I enjoy the subdued fruit flavors, especially as they are not overly sweet. I recommend that you check out the Wokka Saki.

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