Wednesday, August 08, 2007

7/20/07: Dassai Midnight Tasting at Saké Hana

My recent run of working at Saké events continues, no thanks in small part to Toshi of Saké Hana. Actually, Toshi has been very instrumental as the past entries and future entries shall prove. This time, the request was to help out Dassai Midnight Tasting. Could he have twisted my arm any further? I think not.

This was a special event, as it featured 7 versions of Dassai saké (keep in mind there are 3 versions currently available in the U.S.), plus soap using Dassai saké lees, dishes cooked using saké lees, and cooked Yamadanishiki rice that has been polished down to "Niwari Sanbu," or 23%. This was sure to be yet another great evening.

The job itself was a first for me... be a bartender, and help with product description and translating for Sakurai-san and Kinoshita-san. I was outfitted with Asahi Shuzo "happi" robe. Attending this event were my buds Lefty, Tim, and Ayuko who brought her friend. Incidentally, the turnout for this event was the biggest I have seen at Saké Hana.

The event kicked off with Dassai 39 Sparkling Nama Nigori. Because this is rare and Sakurai-san brought limited quantity, we decided to open a small bottle at 1/2 hour interval. A perfect little saké to toast and start the evening. (Note: all saké uses Yamadanishiki, and has SMV rating of +3 and acidity of 1.3.)

Others were served on a all-you-can drink style. These selections included: Dassai "50" Junmai Ginjo, Dassai "50" Junmai Ginjo Nigori, Dassai "Warm 50" Junmai Ginjo, Dassai "45" Junmai Daiginjo, Dassai "39" Junmai Daiginjo, and the incomparable Dassai "23" Junmai Daiginjo. Of course, the numbers depict the different degree of polishing ratio.

The popular selection, outside of the "23," seemed to be the "45," which I found to be a rich and bold with fruity presence of the lot. The American audience seems to especially favor the Nigori (both "39" and the "50"), a trend I still have some difficulty comprehending. My personal favorite was the "39," which I sensed to have the best balance between fruit on the palate, dryness towards the finish, and good length.

The hidden treat was the steamed rice cooked using Yamadanishiki that was polished down to 23%. The end result was soft, slightly chewy, with subtle sweetness. As you chew, the mild sweetness unfolds and expands gently in the mouth. Not surprisingly, lot of the flavor profile echoed that of the "23" in the liquid form.

The evening went on well after the scheduled finish, and it was another successful evening at Saké Hana.

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