Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2/27/07: Tasting Event at Nihonshudō Headquarters

I made a call to Sakurai-san the night before, as he was in town for a short visit. Within couple of hours, we had a plan in place for a BYOS party at my place the next night.

Lefty was the first to arrive, with two 300 ml bottles (Hitorimusume "Sayaka" Junmai, Kamaya "Kyuzaemon" Junmai Taru) in his hands. While we waited on the others for arrive, we feasted on the first of two pies of handmade pizza and trying imo shochu (available only in Japan).

Timothy showed up around 9:30, right in the midst of a "24" episode (Jack and his dysfunctional family feud put on hold; everybody- hates- each- other politicos forced to work together; Chloe in a men's room; dysfunctional government working relationship leading to a big bang... Lefty's hooked!). Back to the saké, as Timothy came in with Shimeharitsuru Junmai Ginjo from Niigata Prefecture.

With Sakurai-san running a little late, we started on Timothy's selection first. Shimeharitsuru (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.4, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: N/A) was a clean saké with fruits/grain balance and a mineral/umami finish, a kind of saké that made me crave for a sashimi. After about two glasses, Sakurai-san made it into Astoria, and the evening was well under way.

The second bottle to try was the featured saké of the evening, Kaika "Tobindori" Shizuku Daiginjo Genshu (SMV: +4.5~5.5, Acidity: 1.1~1.3, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 38%, Yeast: N/A), which is a three different ways ("shizuku" = free run, "daiginjo" = most refined, and "genshu" = cask strength = undiluted ) of saying "low yield," which in turn translates to, "expensive" ($135/750 ml). This is a saké made for competition, meaning it is designed to stand out amongst hundreds of other sakés in the competion. It is, therefore, no surprise that the saké is very intense, starting from the nose. The soft approach is quickly met by intense honeyed pineapple reminsicent of Kakunkō, with more firmness. The finish is initially quick, but then resurfaces leaving a very lengthy trail.

With the witching hour approacing, we picked up our pace. We transitioned from the intense saké to vibrant one in the form of Dassai 50 Junmai Ginjo Nigori (SMV: +6, Acidity: 1.2, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: N/A) which really conveyed the effervescence of the lees and yeast, complemented by vibrant fruit. After a quick rinse of the glass, we got to try Kamaya "Kyuzaemon" Junmai Taruzaké (SMV: N/A, Acidity: N/A, Rice: N/A, Seimaibuai: 68%, Yeast: N/A), something I haven't tried before. Of all the taru I've tried, I consider it one of the most intense, with a dominant aroma and flavors of the cedar reminding me of being in the traditional Japanese bath.

Around this time, the short hand of the clock passed 1, meaning that the evening was coming to a close... afterall, it's only Monday! The last saké of the evening was Sayaka (SMV: +8, Acidity: 1.5, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: N/A), which had earthy notes of grain and almonds with firm fruit. There was one bottle which was unopened, but it happens to be the one that we all know like the back of our collective hands: Dassai 50 Junmai Ginjo. Fear not, it is archived in my fridge for the next succesful evening.


Melinda said...

Man, you guys are hardcore! Monday night? The thought makes me swoon.

What do you think of those competition sakes? My impression is that they're kind of like extreme examples of haute couture - artistically expressive of the brewer's craft but not necessarily fun to drink with any frequency.

tim said...

I had a great time, KC! It was a real treat to try your Kaika "Tobindori" Shizuku Daiginjo Genshu. THANK YOU for sharing!

I had never had that Shimeharitsuru Junmai Ginjo I brought and I really liked it. I think I will be picking up another bottle - and I will follow your suggestion and get my hands on some sashimi.

thanks for hosting!

KCinNYC said...

Yup, 'twas a Monday nighter. We all had to scramble on short notice, but we got it done!

I agree with you about the competition sakés. It is intellectually fun to see the different angles presented, and a treat to try, but it can be overwhelming after a while. We only drank about half the bottle between the four of us (granted, we were outnumbered by the bottles, which may also explain our conservative nature...)


KCinNYC said...


Glad you made it over!

As it gets warmer, we ought to have more BYOS events. Can't wait!

Bankable Poetry said...

I'm trying to find a good website for ordering sake online. My local wine shop in Ithaca, NY is fantastic for wine, but pretty weak on sake. Do you have any ideas? Please email if you do.
Much thanks,


KCinNYC said...

Hi Glenn,

Thanks for stopping by... you've got mail!