Friday, November 23, 2007

11/9/07: Day 8 in Japan Part II - Tasting Rare Sakés of Shichi Hon Yari

After the tour of the brewery, Mr. Tomita was generous enough to offer me a tasting of some very rare sakés. For the second time in my trip, I had a chance to try muroka nama genshu (無濾過生原酒- unfiltered, unpasteurized and undiluted) sakés that brewers use to monitor and evaluate the quality of their sakés. (The first time was for Dassai.)

In all, I got to try 11 sakés. Since they are high in alcohol and it was only around noon time, we used the spitoon (fashinable curvey white object to the right.) It's important to note that Tomita Shuzo makes all their sakés using one type of rice for each bottle, as opposed to using one kind for yeast starter and another for the mash. Ultimately, Mr. Tomita's goal is to produce sakés that are deep and structured, with clean and sharp acidity, rich in umami on the finish.

Here is the list:
  • Daiginjo (Yamadanishiki): Polished down to 40%, using #14 yeast. A quintessential Yamadanishiki with very fruity melon and Japanese pears.

  • Junmai Daiginjo (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 45%, using #14 yeast. Fruity, with flavors of red apples.

  • Junmai Ginjo (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 50%, using #14 yeast. Mild nose, flavors of Japanese pear and apples. Slight nuttiness and long umami on the finish.

  • Junmai Ginjo (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 55%, using #14 yeast. Similar to 50%, but sharper and more liveliness of the namazaké.

  • Junmai (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 60%, using #14 yeast. This was very sharp and vibrant.

  • Junmai (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 60%, using #7 yeast. Soft, mellow, and balanced. Mr. Tomita noted that #7 seems to age faster, as it shows definitive signs of ripening.

  • Junmai (Ginfubuki): Polished down to 60%, using #14 yeast. Earthier style, with hints of mushrooms. Deep acidity with good structure. The progression of tasting is proving to be a very educational exercise in polishing ratio and use of yeast.

  • Tokubetsu Junmai (organic Tamazakaé): Polished down to 60%, using #1701 yeast. The balanced flavors of citrus, melon, and fresh mushrooms provides complexity and interesting structure.

  • Teiseihaku Junmai (Tamazakaé): Polished down to 80%, using #7. This is the most popular saké sold locally. Mildly creamy aroma followed by soft creamy palate. Less complex, but brings out umami on the finish.

The last two sakés were different style:

  • Kodaimai Red Saké: using old saké rice (古代米), the red saké possessed notes of cream, vanillam nuts, red beans, and deep minerals on a dry finish.

  • Junmai Ginjo (Ginfubuki): Pasteurized. Polished down to 55%, using #14 yeast. Had a muscat grape-like aroma and flavor.

    • Huge thanks go to Henry Sidel for arranging my visit, and Mr. Tomita for his incredible hospitality!


      Larry M said...

      Ni-san, you're killing me. I drink the nihonshu that you're seeing being made as much as I can.
      When I was the sake guy at Sam's, I was the first in Chi-town to bring in Henry's line. I've met several of his producers as they've blown through the Windy city.

      Great that you're in the same town as him. I've been promising Beau that I'd do a review of the Watari Bune 55 tasted both warm and chilled.
      If you send me your e-mail address, I'll send you a pic of the last time I was in J. when I spent an evening with Philip Harper (known him for a few years, wrote review of his book for amazon)in a small back-alley izakaa in Osaka, where we wound up drinking '88 sake. Warm and aged.

      Henry has a phenomenal line and I promote it as I can.
      Sounds like you owe him (as in Kill Bill)... a rather large obligation.

      I think you're probably back in NYC, I think you enjoyed your trip a bit more than I did, but... very, very cool stuff.

      I'll be back in March, unless Ataru Kobiyashi(Niigata) sends me there prior to that to get his "under construction for 3 years" up and running.

      Another great thing you've got in NYC... Ataru.


      Hiroko & Rick said...

      KC san!

      When you taste all those sake, do you get drunk? How do you prepare yourself for not getting drunk?


      KCinNYC said...


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

      KCinNYC said...


      God blessed talent? ;-)

      Let's just say that I don't necessarily prepare myself to not get drunk... when I am tasting, I'll try to be very judicious in knowing which ones to swallow.

      If anything, my preparation is more along the lines of "damage control": eating before drinking (of course); consuming vegetables daily (very underrated); and drinking Gatorade (or water) before going to bed and after waking up (old reliable) generally works for me.

      KCinNYC said...


      The emails I sent (via my hotmail and gmail) to your gmail address turned out to be unsuccessful.

      Can you send me alternate email address? (Please reply by commenting here. I will not post it for your protection.)