One of the pleasures of going to Japan is enjoying sake (rice wine). We taste a wide variety of sake every time we visit.
Here is a collection of sake reviews we had during our stay in Japan in April 2023.
Shichiken Sparkling Sake: Yamano Kasumi
This is a sparkling sake produced by Shichiken, a sake brewery in Yamanashi Prefecture, with a second fermentation in the bottle. Instead of filtering the finished sake completely, the lees left behind to preserve the sweetness and complexity of the taste.
The thin, cloudy liquid, as the name ‘Yamano Kasumi (mountain’s fog)’ suggests, softly fizzes. The fruity, fresh ginjo aroma is very elegant. It is neither too sweet nor too spicy, so you won’t get tired of drinking it. The alcohol content of 11% is also gentle and good.
A 360 ml bottle was 1,000 yen at a supermarket. It is also nice that it is reasonably priced. It is a treasured sparkling sake that I would like to drink again and again.
Dewazakura Ginjo Honnama
Sake from Yamanashi prefecture. Easy to drink with lots of flavour. Alcohol 15%, rice polishing ratio 50 %. Although it is not heat treated at all, it has a solid, heavy body. A well balanced ginjo that does not fade away no matter what kind of food it is served with.
Kuro-obi (Black Belt) Yuyuu
Sake from Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. Special junmai sake. Alcohol content 15° C. Polishing ratio 68 per cent.
This junmai sake is made using the ginjo brewing process and has a crisp, dry, yet full flavour. The rich rice flavour leaves a soft astringent taste. It is not too sweet and is very pleasant on the palate – the more you drink, the more you want to drink.
Tateyama Junmai Ginjo
Junmai Ginjo sake from Tonami, Toyama Prefecture. Alcohol 15%, rice polishing ratio 59%.
The aroma is subdued, but the sweetness and umami of the rice spreads softly in the mouth. It has a faint yellow colour. Smooth and easy to drink, with a creamy, faintly yoghurt-like flavour on the nose after swallowing. An excellent, well-balanced sake.
Garyubai Junmai Ginjo
Sake from Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It was sold at Family Mart in Atami. The colour is slightly yellowish. As soon as the bottle is opened, the floral aroma rises softly.
The alcohol content is 15%. It tastes of tropical fruit, like lychee, with a pleasant bitter aftertaste. It has a sweet bitterness like cocoa or coffee.
The ‘Garyu’ in Garyubai refers to a dragon lying down on the ground waiting for an opportunity, in other words, a hero, and the drink is said to be a shout-out to those who are about to fly high into the sky.
Asahiyama Junmai Sake
This sake is from Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. It has an alcohol content of 15 per cent and a rice polishing ratio of 65 per cent. The aroma is of soft rice, and the drink tastes like a slightly sweet melon.
It is said to taste best at room temperature or lukewarm, but unfortunately it is a little difficult to adjust the lukewarm temperature as we were in a hotel while travelling.
Suigei (Drunken Whale) Tokubetsu Junmai Sake
This sake is from Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture. 15% alcohol by volume, 55% polished rice.
Very smooth and easy to drink. Slightly sweet, with a subdued aroma, it is a sake to drink every evening.
Kubota Senju Junmai Ginjo
Sake from Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. It has a very pleasant taste and can be enjoyed by all. Mild floral aroma, well-balanced taste. Good sharpness and a clean aftertaste.