Notes from a Quarantine Breaker

So, what’s new, y’all?

Yeah. I guess it’s probably clear that what with all that’s been going on, my blogging has fallen by the wayside. I would apologize, but come on… It’s a global pandemic.

At the same time, I am still whiling away my time learning about and drinking sake, so I imagine other people are, too. And maybe they might want to read something about it, yeah? So, I’m going to try to be better about blogging here, and maybe we can forget the crumbling structure of world society for a minute.

One thing that I did, that perhaps I shouldn’t have, but still… I went to my local sake heaven, Kokushu, a couple of weeks ago. It turned out OK because I was the only customer and I stayed a good two meters from the shop owner all night. Social distancing win!

I enjoyed some lovely brews there, and here’s a quick sampling.

Zaku Gen no Tomo

I tried my first Zaku. I usually focus on Yamaguchi sakes, but since Fujioka Miki-toji came from Zaku to Yamaguchi to help establish Choshu Shuzo, I figured I’d better give this one a try. It was, naturally, wonderful. Mellow and smooth, with a lovely balance of fruity sweetness and ricey umami.

Mori no Kura Komagura, aged 5 years in the kura then another behind the shop owner’s piano.

This 17-year-old beauty was very exciting. The shop owner bought it 12 years ago and put it behind his piano, then forgot about it. It’s been aged at room temperature since then, and is still great. It has the key koshu notes of honey, nuts, and dried fruit, without excessive heaviness to drag it down. It’s a real argument to the idea that room-temperature aging is not always a bad idea.

Yuki no Bosha Yamahai Junmai

This one was a very pleasant surprise. The owner served it heated up to around 40 degrees C, and it was excellent. Most of the time, I find kanzake (heated sake) too rich and cloying, but this one was light and tart. The owner indicated that Yamahai tends to brighten up when heated, and this was a perfect example. Even more interesting is that this one is quite cheap–somewhere around 1,600 yen for a 1.8l isshobin.

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