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.’
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.
This follow up article builds on the two areas – “ingredients and equipment” – previously investigated which continue to cause challenges to international sake breweries, often leaving their owners scratching their heads, and reaching for their cheque books.
So, assuming you have your brewery now built and all the ingredients to hand, ready for that first fermentation, can you confidently fire up the rice washer and steamer with enough knowhow to make even a passable end sake?
Twenty-five years ago, as Coolio topped the US charts and let us take a look around his Gangsta’s Paradise, on the other side of the world, just 3.3m bold adventurers chose to visit Japan as their holiday destination, ranking it a lowly 34th most visited country.
Ten years later, visitor numbers were over twice that and, despite a blip in growth due to the Fukushima incident almost a decade ago, Japan’s popularity hasn’t looked back.
One of the main reasons for this has been the popularity of Japanese food. And what goes well with all that yakitori, sashimi and okonomiyaki goodness? Well, beer of course, but also sake. In 2019 the sake export market was ¥23.4bn (up 25% from just two years earlier), more than triple that of 2009, with the largest importer being the United States, with China and Hong Kong second and third.
Kung flu, Chinese coronavirus, Chinese virus, and Wuhan virus. Those are just some of the derogatory nicknames people have applied to the COVID-19 virus. Even worse, this derision and bullying goes far beyond names for the virus.
People have physically and verbally attacked Asian people. The perpetrators thought that their victims had COVID-19, helped it spread, or came from places they associated with it. People have also insulted Asian countries. Such attacks during times of international crisis are not new, but there are ways to combat them. Continue reading “Guest Post: Fighting Viruses And Ignorance”→
Since starting Yamato Magazine, one of the most rewarding aspects has been interacting with like-minded people. Blogging is an amazing way of connecting with others from all over the world. The interest in Japanese culture only seems to be growing. That’s why Yamato Magazine is open to collaborating with other writers who are passionate about Japan. Want to build your writing portfolio or have a niche Japanese topic to talk about? You’ve come to the right place! Continue reading “An Open Call For Guest Writers In Yamato Magazine”→