Among the many exciting aspects of sake are the different grades with their own distinctive characteristics, like the savoury qualities of a good honjozo. Futsushu (ordinary/table) nihonshu has a mixed reputation, despite being the most common type of sake, accounting for 75% of all sake produced in Japan.
Compared to premium grades like a daiginjo, futsushu can be derided as being ‘low-quality’ and that is simply untrue. After tasting Choya futsushu sake, I can say that there’s a lot to enjoy about the category.
Why did I choose the bottle?
I wanted to explore a new type of sake and make up my own mind about the quality of futsushu. The reasonable price of Choya immediately caught my attention. At roughly £10 on Amazon, it’s a steal and the label is bright, floral and attractive.
Choya nihonshu is produced under the Choya brand by the Yucho Brewery in Nara. Made from Japonica rice and milled down to 75%, the drink is non-genetically modified and showcases the beautiful terroir of the Nara region with the inclusion of soft mineral water.
I was eager to try the Choya in a couple of different styles and decided to sip it at room temperature first. On the nose, I detected hints of peach and pineapple. This contrasted with a savoury taste of oats and sardines which was balanced with sweeter notes of banana and grapefruit.
On my second round, I drank it kanzake (hot) and noticed how the savoury qualities became bigger and brighter. The bouquet of the sake unfurled and I found myself enjoying it even more. The Choya is smooth, easy and very sessionable. An awesome introductory sake.
For food, I paired it with a spinach and ricotta pizza and found that the savouriness worked beautifully with the cheese. The pinch of sweetness also gave some great tang. Based on my experimentation, I’d recommend drinking Choya warm alongside a fatty or meaty dish.
Seimaibuai/Rice Polishing Rate: 75%
Interested to try a different kind of sake? Check out Yamato Magazine’s review of Gozenshu 9 Boidaimoto.