Hatsumomiji Kaiten – Tasting

This sake is one of Hatumomiji’s most premium brands. The name is a reference to the Kaiten “manned torpedoes” planned at the end of World War 2, and built and tested at a base on a small island off the coast of Shunan city. It’s a sad local story, and one that lingers over the area in a number of ways.

Hatumomiji Kaiten Junmai Daiginjo, Saito no Shizuku kakemai (rice added to the mash) and Yamada Nishiki Kojimai (rice for making rice koji) at 40% seimaibuai.

The name is not only a memorial, then, it’s also an indication of the locality, or terroir, of this sake. It’s a rare Saito no Shizuku daiginjo, made with Yamaguchi’s own sake rice mixed with locally grown Yamada Nishiki.

I purchased this at the brewery itself, and when I asked what made it different the staff told me that Saito no Shizuku is much sweeter and more vibrant than Yamada Nishiki at lower polishing ratios, but since it’s so much more fragile it’s harder to achieve those ratios. Thus, this sake is made with a combination of the two rices to keep it within a reasonable price range (the 300ml bottle I got was almost 900 yen–approaching Dassai 23 levels).

The aroma is reserved, a mild hint of mushroom and rice. But in the mouth, this sake explodes with bright sweetness. It’s almost berry-like, with just a touch of clean sourness to keep it from being overpowering.

The aftertaste lingers just a bit, with some astringent notes, but overall this sake is a clean, smooth and more-ishly sweet one. It doesn’t cloy at all, which is always a worry with sweet sakes like this one.

All in all, this is a remarkably unusual sake, and one well worth trying. The price is a deterrent, but this would be a great gift sake or one to take to a dinner party for dessert.

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