Dassai – “50” – Junmai Daiginjō

Dassai  – “50” – Junmai Daiginjō

Dassai –  “50” –  Junmai Daiginjō      Summary: No better introduction to the seductive world of aromatic daiginjō sake. Explosive fragrance and sweet palate. Beauty in a glass. Seimaibuai: 50%,  Acidity 1.4, SMV +3, Acohol: 15.5%,  Rice: Yamada Nishiki Prefecture: Yamaguchi Price:  At Masuya, about $35 for a 300 ml bottle, $35  for 720 ml bottle at Tokyo Mart. Score – 10/10 grains Details: 20 years ago, the maker of Dassai sake, Asahi Shuzō, was on the brink of going under. The small 200 year old brewery, deep in the mountains of rural Yamaguchi, was mostly pumping out cheap table sake. Sales were dropping 10% a year. The new president, Sakurai Hiroshi, took a bold step of  developing a new line of daiginjō sake called Dassai (“otter festival”, also a nickname of the local haiku poet).  When he had success with it, he decided to radically push the envelope, and develop a product finer than anything else that existed on the market. He had heard that the lowest rice milling rate anyone had achieved was 24%, so he set out to go lower. In 1992, the brewery developed “Dassai 23” – sake with seimaibuai of just 23%.  It means that outer 77% of rice used in making the sake has been milled away. It became their flagship product, and brought them world-wide fame.  Asahi Shuzō, still, only brews junmai daiginjō, and its products appear on sake lists of finest restaurants in Japan and overseas. “Dassai 50”, hence, is junmai daiginjō with seimaibuai of 50%. Don’t think for a moment, however, that it is inferior to “Dassai 23”. It is a fine, fine sake, and happens to be my favourite in the Dassai line-up. “Dassai 50” has a full, almost overripe fragrance of green apples. On the palate, the apple flavour continues to inject acidity, but it is tempered with strawberries and cream, and sweet peaches. Smooth and delicious. Barely-there dryness in the finish. Such a drinkable sake, the 300 ml bottle I shared over lunch with a friend disappeared in an instance. Buy the full-sized bottle!      ...

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