That this isn’t even Dassai 45’s first review in Yamato Magazine is testament to its popularity in the world of English-speaking sake enthusiasts. Asahi-Shuzo’s flagship junmai daiginjo is probably largely behind the brewery’s decision (and ability) to open a new premises in New York. That it is amongst the most recognisable and celebrated sakes in the West is undeniable.
Fortunately the hype is completed justified; Dassai 45 is a beautifully refined, masterfully crafted beverage that serves as the perfect introduction to nihonshu. Nothing that follows is radically different from the acclaim it already enjoys, but relaxing with a chilled bottle the effusive praise flows almost as easily as the sake itself does!
Appearance: Colourless, transparent and still.
Nose: The high intensity fresh fruity aroma makes this very inviting. There is also an interesting lactose note which balances this wonderfully.
Palate: Big, full mouthfeel with lots of body gives way to a bold fruitiness; largely banana / melon, but with a grape-like sharp note and just a hint of sticky sweetness. Perfectly balanced swallow with a long lasting, juicy finish.
Verdict: The melon-tinged fruitiness and light acidity will strike a chord with white wine drinkers; whilst the muted depth added by the cereal / lactose notes make this a welcome change from the familiar chardonnay. Without doubt anyone choosing Dassai 45 as their first sake experience certainly won’t make it their last!
Grade: Junmai daiginjo
Seimaibuai/Rice Polishing Ratio: 45%
Jordan Smithcroft is a Manchester-based healthcare worker with an interest in Japanese culture, including Studio Ghibli, Haruki Murakami and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Having travelled to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto in 2019, he hopes to return to see more of Japan in the near future.
Jordan was shortlisted for the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Best Young Beer Writer in 2016 and has since expanded his interest into sake. He is currently undertaking the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) sake qualification in the hopes of becoming a judge and educator.