Whilst not quite as simple as pushing a fresh, floral and fruity junmai daigingo to the back of your cupboard and trying to forget it exists for the next five years, aged sake is indeed a real thing. Specially pre-aged nihonshu (known as koshu) makes up a tiny amount of total sake production and sales and as a result is hugely misunderstood, forgotten or ignored.
When it comes to premium sake, the Dassai brand created by the Asahi-Shuzo brewery remains a constant powerhouse. Their junmai daiginjo range has captivated drinkers across the globe and I’ll add myself to that list of evangelists. The Dassai 23, 45 and 39 rank among my favourite nihonshu and it’s intriguing to see the kind of innovations that the Asahi brewery continues to champion.
Jordan Smithcroft also enjoys Dassai sake and he’s written up a great review of the epic sparkling Dassai 45 junmai daiginjo nigori.
Considering Asahi-Shuzo is the largest sake producer in Niigata prefecture the washi paper label of its Kubota Senjyu (1000 Long Lives) is a charmingly personal touch. And whilst online retailers seem caught between the technicalities of whether to best market as ginjo or tokubetsu (special) honjozo, the brewery’s own website is happy to promote the Kubota range for its‘subtle flavo[u]r’ and ‘mellow… and gentle taste.’
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. Continue reading “Guest Post: Dassai 45 Junmai Dai Ginjo by Asahi-Shuzo Co. Ltd Review”
The International Wine Challenge (IWC) judges can’t get enough of Takedo Shuzo’s Katafune range sakes, which scooped top awards in the 2013 and 2015 competitions. According to its website the brewery, located in the western port city of Niigata, was established in 1866 and is currently proudly managed by the ninth and tenth generation of its founder Seizaemon Takeda.
I chilled a bottle of Katafune Junmai and decided to forego the label recommendation (‘an excellent drink with dinner’), interested instead in how the sake carried itself.
Despite accounting for a large majority of all sake consumed within Japan, futsushu remains the least desirable classification in the West. For most sake is an unusual and somewhat luxurious product, consumed on special occasions. Sampling premium styles with bold, distinctive flavours makes the experience worthwhile and memorable. Futsushu’s reputation as simple ‘table sake’ doesn’t play well to this. For those who do wish to give futsushu a go, Yucho Brewery’s Choya is by far the obvious choice, being inexpensive and readily available.
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.
One of the most exciting aspects of sake is the production method, especially when you begin to see the distinctions in flavour profile between modern methods like the Sokujomoto process and specialist methods like Yamahai.
The most ancient form of sake production is the bodaimoto method, which originated in the 14thcentury and can be traced to Nara. Sake produced in this style brings on unique flavours, which is definitely the case with Gozenshu 9 Junmai. Continue reading “Gozenshu 9 Junmai Sake Review: Become A Bodaimoto Believer”
Dassai sake, produced by the Asahi Brewery of Yamaguchi Prefecture, has earned a reputation for being one of the best types of nihonshu on the market. Falling into the premium junmai daiginjo grade, the Dassai range is characterised by a high rice polishing rate that unlocks fruity and floral flavours.
After tasting the sexy Dassai 23, I fell down the rabbit hole of wanting to discover the entire Dassai range and have got around to sampling Dassai 45. Continue reading “Dassai 45 Sake Review: Nihonshu With The Best Qualities Of White Wine”
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. Continue reading “Dassai 39 Review: Elegance In A Glass”