Nagaragawa – ‘Tenkawa’ – Muroka Nama Junmai Ginjō

Nagaragawa –  ‘Tenkawa’ –  Muroka Nama Junmai Ginjō

Nagaragawa –  ‘Tenkawa’ –  Muroka Nama Junmai Ginjō      Summary: The unpasteurised and unfiltered version of one of my favourites, but the nama zing is possibly not fully present due to the long time on the road. But is is fresh, fun, brash and too drinkable for anyone’s good. Seimaibuai: 55%,  Acidity 1.5, SMV +3, Amino Acids 1.6, Acohol: 15.8%,  Rice: Hida Homare, Yeast # 16. Prefecture: Gifu Price:  Online, about $36.45 for a 720 ml bottle. Score – 7.5/10 Details: It was hard to review this sake. I was really looking forward to opening this bottle. The orthodox version of Tenkawa is one of my favourite sake available here, in Australia. Full, complex, sweet and savoury.  I also love nama, unpasteurised sake, and the bubbly, effervescent zing that live enzymes inject into flavour. But Chef’s Armoury Sake Shop is in Melbourne, and the only way to deliver sake is with Australia Post trucks. 3 full days out of the fridge later, the sake feels a little too settled for nama, a little flat. I just feel something is supposed to be there, and it’s no longer is. Perhaps I am imagining things, and it was never meant to be that effervescent. All is not lost, however. Quite the opposite. The sake has a muted banana and rice fragrance and a full, sugar and umami – laden palate. Acidity is nearly overwhelming,  but it fits the fullness of flavour. It is a bit like underripe custard apple, sweet and creamy but astringent, too. The sweetness is reminiscent of canned pinapple. It is intense, young, brash and, despite its rough edges, very very drinkable. The sake has not been filtered with charcoal, but the colour is clear. To be honest, the filtered version is almost as full.   It is a lot of fun, but I need to try it fresh out of the fridge. Something for my next visit to the southern capital.      ...

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Hayashi Honten – “Hyakujuro 110 Black” – Junmai Daiginjō

Hayashi Honten – “Hyakujuro 110 Black” – Junmai Daiginjō

Hayashi Honten –  Hyakujuro “110 Black” – Junmai Daiginjō   Summary: Delicate floral nose, fruity palate of banana and rockmelon, clean finish. Has potential to become my favourite. Seimaibuai: 50%, Acohol: 15.5% SMV +3, Acidity 1.7, Amino acids 0.7 Price: $46.60 online for 720 ml bottle. Score – 7/10 grains Details: Hayashi Honten brewery is hidden in the Japanese alps in Gifu prefecture, which is some of my favourite spots in Japan. Cooler climate and clear waters of mountain rivers seem to have inspired the brewers to produce this refined, clean-tasting daiginjō. Hayashi Honten has several sake brands to its name, and Chef’s Armoury import two of them – Hyakujuro and Eichi. Hyakujuro 110 Black is one special sake. The nose is quite delicate, floral, but upon close inspection begins to open up with some notes of sweet fruit. In the mouth, it boldly asserts its sweetness – I was fumbling for association until I realised that I was tasting banana. Not just banana, but perhaps banana lollies with an addition of rockmelon. There is plenty of spice at the back, and the finish is bitey but clean. The flavour feels quite modern, and seems to have been brewed to be enjoyed with food. A great match for modern Australian cuisine. I have no doubt this brew will become a major hit! Delicious cold, but the sweet, creamy sensation increases as the sake warms up. Food pairing ideas: This sake is sweeter than the parameters suggest, and strikes a good balance between delicateness and full, creamy body . For an unusual, but effective, pairing, enjoy it with a salad, something with tomato and avocado. The avocado seems to enhance the creaminess of the sake, and bring out its sweetness. The tartness of a tomato accentuates the clean finish. It is quite an interesting, modern brew, and will go well with simple modern food. Chicken, white fish, salads, or even fruit....

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Kubota Shuzo – Kuranoyado – Junmai Ginjo

Kubota Shuzo – Kuranoyado – Junmai Ginjo

Kubota Shuzō – Kuranoyado –  Junmai Ginjō    Summary: Pleasant, easy drinking  –  to have when you feel like “simply sake”. Seimaibuai: 55%, Acohol: 15.3% Price: $41.45 online for 720 ml bottle. Score – 7/10 grains Details: This junmai ginjō has a nice aromatic nose, and spreads on the palate quite sweetly, ending with a short spicy tail. It is a well-balanced, quality ginjō that would be quite pleasant to drink on its own. A touch on the dry side.  There is no such thing as a typical sake, but I am tempted to call this one a classic. Chef’s Armoury, the exclusive importer of Kuranoyado, claim it as their favourite. My preferences lie with the incredible Fukukoma, but Kuranoyado is definitely coming second in their Kubota Shuzo brewery range.  ...

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Kubota Shuzō – Toji Ikkon – Daiginjō

Kubota Shuzō – Toji Ikkon – Daiginjō

Kubota Shuzō – Toji Ikkon –  Daiginjō   Summary: Earthy fragrance, light body. Unoffending sake that will not take attention away from food.  Quite dry. Good palate cleanser. Seimaibuai: 40%, Acohol: 15.5% Price: $60.45 online for 720 ml bottle. Score – 6/10 grains Details: Toji Ikkon – “a master brewer’s cup” – is not a drink to be enjoyed on the balcony while watching the sunset. No, this sake is quite lonely on its own, without food.  Despite being super-premium grade, daiginjō, it has a muted, earthy fragrance. On the palate, it begins with notes of citrus, and progresses to subtle honey nuances as it warms in the cup. The finish is quite astringent and dry. There are no hidden secrets to discover at the bottom of this master brewer’s cup, which makes it a perfect accompaniment to boozy banquet dinners at Asian restaurants.  It will not distract you from food and conversation, and will refresh your palate between dishes. I tried it with a strongly flavoured fried fish,  and found it washed away the fishiness. Quite refreshing, if a little bland. Technical Notes: Not junmai, which means a little bit of distilled alcohol has been added at the end of the brewing...

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Kubota Shuzō – Fukukoma – Junmai Ginjō Nama Genshu

Kubota Shuzō – Fukukoma –  Junmai Ginjō Nama Genshu

Kubota Shuzō – Fukukoma –  Junmai Ginjō Nama Genshu   Summary: A well-balanced, morish, exciting sake that surprises with its savoury finish. Unpasteurised, so get it while you can. Seimaibuai: 55%, Acohol: 16.9% Price: $43.45 online for 720 ml bottle. Score – 9/10 grains Details: This is such a well-balanced sake. Straight out of a chilled bottle, it begins with a delicate floral fragrance. Suddenly, more pungent ricey, yeasty notes filter through. On the palate, it has upfront sweetness, which flows into spicy berries, dark chocolate, a hit of spiciness and, finally, a smooth finish with loads of umami. What’s umami, you ask? Umami is a Japanese word for the fifth taste, the savoury, satisfying character of a dish. Think aged cheddar, truffles, black caviar. Once you pay attention to umami, it’s instantly recognisable. Fukukoma has plenty of umami in its body, which makes you crave one sip after another. It is brilliant paired with hot-smoked fish, pungent, aged cheeses, and beer snacks like jerky and dried squid. The best thing about this sake, however, is the harmony between all its flavour elements – sweetness, umami, unpasteurised zing and acidity. A very well thought out brew and worth seeking out.  Remember, it is unpasteurised and might not always be available. Technical Notes: Nama sake – or namazake –  requires extra care,  but compensates in liveliness of taste. It should always be refrigerated. “Genshu” means it has not been diluted with water, which, in this case, makes it slightly more...

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