I am now exploring Japanese sake. I’ve always enjoyed sake at the Japanese restaurants in town, yet it never occurred to me to explore this spirit on my own.
It appears that now more than ever, we have a fine selection of brewers to choose from. I’m drawn to the parallels between brewing sake and brewing beer, and I’m equally drawn to the natural and subtle aromas that make the final sake more comparable to wine.
I’m now enjoying a private tasting of three varieties offered by Murai Family. This private tasting is taking place in my own home on the off chance that I overindulge and fall to the floor.
Historically sake was kept in cedar barrels for both it’s processing and it’s storage. As you might imagine, this led to a very woody overtone to the final spirit. This ‘wood tone’ was pervasive enough that sake was warmed before serving, allowing the floral aromas to come forward. If we fast forward to the process today, we discover that the processing is not dissimilar to the processes for wine and beer. Hence, we can now set sake in a place of regard, recognizing that each brewer puts forth a yield that is subtly different, yet still offering a unique character.
I purchased these three taster bottles in a single package. The labeling from this bottler is a wonderful guide to helping understand each variety. After studying a little online and reading these bottles, I was able to choose a personal favorite.
#1 – Nigori Genshu – Meaning “Cloudy, undiluted”, it’s no surprise this one came in at the highest alcohol content of the three. I found this one to be the most complex of the three. The bottle description hits the high points to a tee: “Creamy smooth” with “hints of coconut and vanilla”. I can definitely see this becoming the yardstick by which I begin to judge other sake.
I enjoyed all three varieties, they each brought something different to the palate. And, well, I did catch a buzz too; but as I age like a fine wine I can honestly say – it’s a comfort to know I can enjoy what I’m drinking simply for the sake of enjoying it.
Sorry, just had to do it. ~TH~
Here’s a great place for you to get started! http://sakeone.com/
- Pairing Sake with Food. Easier than you might think! (brainslightlyfermented.wordpress.com)