For sake connoisseurs, junmai daiginjo is considered the Holy Grail of nihonshu because of the high milling rice rate and floral flavours. So, when you try a bottle of Dassai produced by the Asahi brewery of Yamaguchi Prefecture, you know you’re in for a delightful drinking experience.
The Dassai brand specialises in junmai daiginjo sake that goes all the way to a sexy 23% polishing rate, making it one of the most popular sake brands in the world. And after cracking open a bottle of Dassai 39, my appreciation for the brand has intensified.
Why did I choose the bottle?
The bottle was provided by London Sake, a UK based sake supplier that offers a great mix of Japanese alcohol.
The Asashi brewery is a brilliant example of an alcohol producer redefining itself. After struggling for decades, the brewery re-focused its attention on ultra-premium daiginjo sake, giving birth to Dassai, which translates to ‘Otter Festival.’ The name comes from a local Yamaguchi legend that involves a bunch of happy-go-lucky otters showing off their fishing skills and showing us humans how it’s done properly.
Just as the otters became masters of their craft, the Asahi brewery became masters of producing exceptional sake. The Dassai 39 has an impressive 39% rice polishing rate and was made with the undisputed king of sake rice, Yamada Nishiki, grown in Hyogo.
As soon as I opened the bottle, a succulent fruity aroma escaped into the ether. It’s the aroma of spring: hopefulness, rebirth and possibility. The first thing I noticed about the taste of Dassai 39 was its mellowness. Each sip was light and refreshing, elegance in a glass. Notes of mango, pear, pineapple and blueberry unfurled on my palate in slow bursts.
For food pairings, Dassai 39 goes well with meat and fish dishes and is best served chilled. I drank it alongside chicken, chorizo and polenta stuffed fajitas and enjoyed the contrast of fruitiness and spiciness. (The sake definitely helped my taste buds cool down!)
Mellow, juicy and sessionable, Dassai 39 is a wonderful sake for anyone who’d like to experience the best flavours that the junmai daiginjo grade offers.
Grade: Junmai daigjinjo
Seimaibuai/Rice Polishing Rate: 39%
Rice: Yamada Nishiki