Black Market Sake – beyond ginjō

Black Market Sake – beyond ginjō

This week, I was invited to come along to the event “What’s new”, a mini trade-show that highlights new wine and sake from a number of like-minded importers.  I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Wiss & Matt Young from Black Market Sake. Black Market Sake is a purveyor of artisanal, small production sake, most of which are very hard to find outside (or inside!) Japan.  For example, almost half of their range is ‘namazake’, or unpasteurised sake. Unpasteurised sake is very fragile, and sensitive to light and temperature (all sake is, but unpasteurised is much more so).  You need to take extreme care to properly store and transport namazake, so sourcing such sake is a testament to Black Market’s determination to bring unique sake flavours to the Australian drinkers.  Linda and Matt select sake for the notable, distinct flavour profiles – “boring” and “run of the mill” are not the descriptions you’d ever use for their sake. Linda graciously walked me through the range of about a dozen of sake they were showcasing at the event.  It was a fascinating journey, as nothing gives you an appreciation for the each individual sake or wine like tasting several at a time. The variance was wide-ranging, from the classical aromatic powerhouse daiginjō to the unexpectedly sophisticated red rice junmai.  A drinker will receive a thorough education on the world of sake just by working through the Black Market range. Black Market only imports junmai, or pure sake, created without any addition of brewer’s alcohol.  More unexpected varieties are muroka (sake that hasn’t been filtered through charcoal, but instead pressed to remove any cloudy by-products) and yamahai (sake whose starter was created using slow, labourious, centuries-old traditional methods that allow wild yeasts to get into the mix and produce richer, gamier flavours).  An interesting example from their portfolio is “Shizen Jozo” Junmai Yamahai Muroka 2008 from Sugii Shuzō – unfiltered, traditionally fermented and also aged – a highly unorthodox mix! Linda and Matt are passionate about sake, and people and stories behind each bottle. Every sake is hand-picked. They make annual pilgrimage to Japan each brewing season, visiting their producers and forever searching for new additions to their portfolio. I want their job! I am reviewing a number of sake from the Black Market Range, all those that particularly grabbed my attention (more to come): Chikuma Nishiki – “Kizan Sanban’ Junmai Ginjō Fukuchiyo Shuzo – ‘Nabeshima’ Junmai Daiginjō Black Market Sake is available nation-wide through a range of sake retailers and top restaurants and bars. For more information on where you can purchase or drink it, head to the Black Market Sake...

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