First Sake Tasting Report!

On January 19, I was finally able to get a sake tasting class together, after two failed attempts last fall. 6 drinkers gathered at Kokushu 国酒 in Shunan, Yamaguchi, where we tried a total of for sakes, before going on a tour of nearby Hatsumomiji Shuzo.

Kokushu is a sake specialty izakaya with a great selection. The owner and manager Kawashima-san helped me pick three very different sakes to help demonstrate sake variety. We started with a very drinkable, accessible 3 Grain junmai do from Ohmine. It went over well, of course.

We loved on to a more powerful Hinoshita Musou kimoto junmai made from Saito no Shizuku by Murashige Shuzo. It is a very richly flavored, assertive karakuchi sake that some of the drinkers couldn’t quite deal with. Which was expected, actually. Sake covers a wide variety of styles, and not every one will meet every taste.

We finished the testing proper with a Taka junmai Shinshu from Nagayama Honke in Ube. This was a good demonstration of umami-oriented sake they is less sweet and aromatic, but still easy to drink.

After the testing finished, Kawashima-san surprised us with a real treat: a tobindori muroka nama genshu called “Southpaw” from Kinkan Kuromatsu. It was fantastic, lovely and fruity with a smooth, clean finish.

We then stumbled our way to Hatsumomiji Shuzo for a tour.

We got a look at how this very compact, modern brewery is able to make some of Yamaguchi’s favorite sakes year round.

Hatsumomiji only uses Yamada Nishiki and Saito no Shizuku rice, and all their sake is junmai.

This batch is Yamada Nishiki milled to 35%.

Because they brew year round, they have both a green and a brown sugidama up at the same time!

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