Sake is becoming increasingly popular in the west, with more consumers seeking more information about the different grades and tasting profiles. And to cater to the tastes of a new generation of nihonshu drinkers, some breweries have developed sparkling sake that has similar notes of champagne or prosecco.
A must-try sparkling sake is the Tobiroku ginjo produced by the Dewazakura brewery of Yamagata Prefecture. Airy, light and elegant, the Tobiroku has a star-inspired name that’s sure to bring joy on a night out with friends.
Tobiroku translates to ‘festival of stars,’ which immediately gives this sake a glamorous quality that’s reflected in the bright colours on the bottle. The Dewazakaru brewery has strived for excellence in their craftsmanship. Founded in 1892 in the town of Tendo, the brewery has been releasing award-winning sake for generations in over 25 countries.
The Tobiroku has been produced using a secondary fermentation method to create the kind of champagne-like qualities that are present in sparkling sake. With a rice polishing ratio of 50%, it falls into the realm of a premium drink.
A soft, fruity aroma wafts through the nose and carries notes of citrus and grapes. Flavours of plum and yoghurt flood the palate, creating a vivacious mouthfeel that builds into a crescendo of dryer notes. There’s an underlying creaminess that stems from the fact that the sake is nigori (cloudy), with leftover rice particles adding extra flavour. Persimmon, pear and strawberry mingle together at the back of the throat.
The Tobiroku isn’t as fizzy as other types of sparkling sake like Mio. And while it does have bubbly qualities, the overall astringency makes for a tarter drink that goes well with fish and vegetarian dishes. I’d recommend drinking it chilled and as an aperitif.
Champagne and wine drinkers will definitely enjoy Tobiroku. It’s a suitable introductory sake to people who’ve never tried nihonshu because of its light and dry qualities.
Seimaibuai/Rice Polishing Rate: 50%