The 11th Chief operator, previous generation, studied and created this sake as the concept “sake for dinner” in order to match eastern and western cuisine well. Junmai Ginjo that was developed during 2 generations is sophisticated medium body. This sake features fullness of gentle flavor recalling melon and smooth taste. It starts of neat and refreshing savories expand to good length. It won the first place at “SAKE COMPETITON” in the category of Junmai-Ginjo in succession for 2 years. It’s the biggest examination commission of sake tasting in Japan (the world) selecting the top level sake in Japan!
The name Funaba is a reference to the pressing room in which the fermented sake is separated from the rice lees before bottling. Numerous sacks filled with the mash are piled up on a traditional pressing device called a fune, where they spend a period of two-to-three days as the weight forces the liquid out. This particular sake is honjozo style, drawn from the first pressing of the 2016 vintage. With an aroma of ripe apple and pineapple, a creamy, mild sweetness, and slightly amber hue, it resembles a fine dessert wine in more ways than one.
Fully embracing the "ultimate meal-time sake" ethos, both aroma and sweetness are subtle and subdued, taking maximum advantage of the Kura no Hana variety of rice favored in Miyagi Prefecture. Delicate at first, it proceeds to a well-rounded palate and neat aroma, before dissipating in a flurry that is unique to this sake. Without tiring the palate, savory notes gradually build from the third glass onward, commending it for any extended dining experience.
Using Sasa Nishiki rice grown locally in Miyagi Prefecture, this sake took First Prize in the 2016 Sake Competition to achieve the status of best in Japan. While abiding by the brewery ethos of delivering "ultimate meal-time sake", the Atago no Matsu sits toward the umami end of the spectrum, chasing its melon aroma with a prevailingly smooth, savoury character and pleasant sour finish. Despite being of the highest quality, the flavour is still modest and restrained, allowing it to pair well with dishes.
Many have posited the question, "What is the pinnacle of sake craftsmanship?", but at last we may have found the answer. At the ludicrous polish rate of 7% – meaning that a staggering 93% of the original grain has been removed – this has pushed the technical limitations of production to new heights. Having been specially-cultivated with a contracted farmer, Kura no Hana rice was milled for 350 hours, before the ferment was carried out, then cellared at near-freezing-point for twelve months, to fully develop the flavor. A supple, moist sensation permeates through the palate, presenting a velvety texture and notes of grape and strawberry, before exploding with a burst – like fireworks – and all but vanishing, leaving the merest afterglow. Drinking it, you can almost hear the tune that the rice grains must have sung to in the relentless march to reach less than a millimeter in diameter.
A sister brand to the popular Akitora, the term Niwatazumi encapsulates the poetic nature of rain water and its ephemeral passage from still pool to rushing stream. The sake likewise adopts an unassuming nature before suddenly asserting itself on the palate. A subtle scent of banana rouses the appetite, followed by savoury notes, a slight sweetness, and soft acidity – each of these elements harmonised in an exquisite balance. A particularly good match for any cuisine featuring vinegar.
With its striking label showing the sharp red lines of traditional kumadori face painting of the kabuki theatre, the stage is set for this equally lean and sharp-edged sake. Using Gohyakumangoku rice brings both piercing and rounded character to the profile, with a body that ends in a precise and clean finish. Excellent value for money commends it for any occasion.
Subjecting the moromi – primary fermenting mash – to their cutting-edge centrifugal separator yields the Akatsuki, in a process that was constantly refined. The name Diamond Akatsuki is used to designate the purest incarnation of this technique, consisting of the clearest and most ephemeral element of the sake, and establishing it near the pinnacle of the craft. Purity is the key word here, from initial appearance and acidity, to clear-cut flavors, sweet rice notes, and beguilingly-contoured body. There are a great many drinks that aspire to be liquid gold, but this is truly a liquid diamond befitting the name.
Twin product with the same qualities as "Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjō Hiyaoroshi". Although the brewer, rice for sake and the polishing rate are identical, a different plan has been established to aim for another quality. While staging the freshness of pleasant acidity and fruity and subtle aromas of banana and melon, the maturation of this sake has exceeded a summer, brings flexibility and roundness to all. It gives the impression of having a little more volume than the Hakurakusei.
Demonstrating a slavish dedication to the brewing craft, this sake employs the most traditional and laborious kimoto method, which promotes natural interaction and competition between any strains of yeast and micro-organisms in the surrounding area. Without a reliance on cultivating certain strains, this creates to a unique micro-ecosystem in the brewery, and one which is ever-evolving according to its own forms of natural selection. Furthermore, pressing is done entirely by the force of gravity on a suspended mash, without any mechanical pressure – similar to the highest grades of Tokaji wine – leading to small yields of exceptional quality. A testament to such care in production, the finished sake presents an aroma reminiscent of mild yoghurt and a similarly smooth, velvet mouthfeel, giving way to rich body and particularly clean, crisp acidity. Like a stone dropped into a pond, ripples of savoriness repeat on the palate, before calming and dissipating.
Brewers who are attuned to the variations in each individual vintage are known to create blends of matured sake, in the pursuit of an exquisite balance – just as those in fortified wine and various spirits production also do. Yamabuki Gold consists of blended sake vintages between 10 and 20 years-of-age, giving it the complexion of polished amber, an aroma that reflects the cask maturation, and a resounding, layered sweetness. Its refreshing aftertaste prevents it from being cloying, however, making it a good match with crustaceans, such as shrimp or crab, and rich or fatty cuisine. A medal-winning sake for five consecutive years, including a gold, at the International Wine Challenge.
Gokujo – rendered 59jo on the label – was inaugurated in 2014 to denote five peers all born in Shinshu, Nagano Prefecture in 1984, including the Head Brewer. A collaborative project, each brewer crafts a sake according to a different theme each time. This particular entry, deriving from the second year, used the rice variety Hitogokochi – polished at precisely 59% – and expresses the theme of Gokuraku – hence 59raku – or an enduring sense of fun and frivolity. Doubling-down on the word-play, hitogokochi can also be interpreted as meaning relieved or relaxed, which is reflected in the sake through its gentle but fresh first impression, before progressing into a sharp character that finally races off the palate, making it perfect for refreshing summer quaffing. Gokujo can also be interpreted as meaning superb or par excellence, as another apt reflection of the bottle contents. If there is one thing Head Brewer Muramatsu loves as much as sake, it's word-play...
Cultivated exclusively in Nagano Prefecture, the Kinmon Nishiki rice variety is rare in sake production, due to its scarcity and the resulting premium price. This particular incarnation uses rice from Kijimadiara – the homeland of the variety – and expresses its qualities through the lens of the distinctive Hokkomasamune approach. A delicate pineapple aroma leads into a subtle but rich, savory backbone – in which the Kinmon Nishiki asserts the complex body and flavorsome character – before a clean and graceful denouement.
This limited release, matured from winter to the following autumn, exhibits the sharper edge and robustness of the Senbon Nishiki rice strain, married with the gentler traits of its siblings, such as the Akitora. An aroma of banana rouses the appetite, with savory elements contributing to a moderately fuller but still balanced body. The robust nature of this sake allows for a wide range of drinking temperatures, from lightly chilled through to warm, so adjust to taste.
This first-pressed sake, using first-harvest rice each year, is a celebration of the new vintage. With a gentle sweetness and clean acidity, it makes for perfect table sake. A fresh, youthful aroma of melon, followed by an underlying savory element provides balance, while the remaining rice lees drift like the early springtime snow in the glass.
This new breed of food-centric sake uses Awa Yamada Nishiki rice polished a mere 20%, but shows none of the harsh texture normally expected from such a low rate. A smooth body, aroma of banana and grain, savory palate, and refreshing aftertaste are all intended to enhance food pairings without becoming overbearing. A lesson in careful selection of ingredients and expert brewing craftsmanship.
With a flavor slightly evocative of banana, giving way to clean savory elements and a refreshing aftertaste, each mouthful of this sake becomes a captivating voyage. Use of a traditional fune-style press shows the level of meticulous care in brewing this sake compared to mainstream brands. Best enjoyed when chilled to 10℃, served in broad, shallow vessels, and sipped as the temperature gradually rises, in order to experience the full spectrum of flavors.
Using a traditional fune-style press, before going to bottle without pasteurization, this sake is matured at near-freezing point for limited release in the following summer. A scent of banana, with cantaloupe on the palate, plush mouthfeel, and round savory elements contribute to a long and satisfying aftertaste.
Produced under contract and in collaboration with a local farmer, this junmai-style sake makes use of rice polished a mere 20% from their original size. As such, the end result is similarly rugged, with a heavy, rustic body and pronounced savory component, but clean acidity in the aftertaste. A sake that thrillingly reflects the strong core of the rice from which it was crafted.
This sake is limited edition named “Mu-U”. It means “Not exist” and ”Exist” in Japanese. It comes from the thoughts that “Newly valuable sake was born embracing ideas of both of farmer and brewer by getting rid of pesticide. Tamasakae grew with no pesticide by Takakazu Yagura, practical farmer, was polished to 60%. Through 1-and-a-half-year ferment, it engenders aroma like rich & savory nuts and brilliant & well-rounded body. You’ll feel core strength of rice fostered through struggling with weed and coexistence with nature.
Arising from the fact that it relies on bacteria producing high levels of lactic acid as a defence mechanism, the yamahai method can result in sake which some can find heavy and cloying – imagine the heavy notes of the richest Chardonnay. Consisting exclusively of sake that uses this method, the Hiwata range is thus positioned in such a way as to dispel such preconceptions, as with this example. With a light presence that gradually expands into a gentle, savory flavor of rice grain, and a pleasant sourness on the finish, this will keep you coming back for sip after sip without palate fatigue – more in common with something like a fine Chablis.
Articulating the unique character of sake is the central belief embedded in the Daijiro brand. Above all, it emphasizes the robust and condensed savory elements of sake produced in the yamahai style – a method that employs higher yeast concentration in the initial mash, and forces different strains to compete, ensuring that only the stronger will contribute to the finished product.
Marrying the traditional yamahai-style, which emphasizes a natural preparation, with the primeval Omachi rice variety gives rise to the zenith of the Hiwata range – the Junmai Daiginjo. With a velvet-smooth texture, rigid yet refined body, and symphonic after-notes, this sake delivers a crescendo only heightened when set against harmonious dishes.
Having been pressed and pasteurized in 2014, this sake was cellared for a whole twelve months, despite which it still has a vibrant and evolving character. Savory notes of raisin dominate, with expanding acidity and strong presence from start to finish. Clean and well-rounded throughout.
Uniting a newly-developed local variety of rice, dubbed Maikaze, and the endemic Gunma 2 yeast strain, this limited-release is a true celebration of Gunma Prefecture. Produced in the yamahai style – a method that employs higher yeast concentration in the initial mash, forcing different strains to compete, and ensuring that only the strong survive – it presents a profoundly savory character and pronounced acidity at first, before broadening to offer notes of stewed strawberries. Beguiling in its deep flavor, without being cloying, and refreshing edge, it is eminently – perhaps too – drinkable.
Synonymous with the Shichida name is a set of four limited release, unpasteurized sake, each using one of four sake rice varieties – Yamada Nishiki, Yamadaho, Omachi, and Aiyama – and all polished at 75%. When the yields of Yamadaho are greater, this particular one is brewer more regularly. As a parent variety to the more prevalent Yamada Nishiki, this grain possesses a rigid, somewhat primal quality that creates an exciting flavor profile.
Typical of yamahai-style sake bearing the name Take Suzume, there is a heft and a weight to this that still manages to display restraint and sophistication. A distinctive aroma, inherent freshness, and structured dry body marks further ground for an ever-evolving brewer.
When completely fermented, sake contains a higher neat alcohol content than any other brewed liquor – typically around 16-17% – which has a tendency to render it overpowering when matching with cuisine, not to mention the health concerns. For this reason, modern commercial sake is 'cut down' to a strength of around 13% – similar to wine – leading to a style of which this brewery has been particularly adept. Submitted to the most extensive examination board in the world, this sake took first place in the junmai class at the 2013 Sake Competition, overcoming stiff competition from many other lauded producers and attracting critical acclaim among professionals. With its light body, balance and breadth of flavor and acidity, and easy-drinking quality, it is fortunate that it sits at a modest 13% after all...
Kaiyoshinko is a relatively new branding born out of the Shinko 190 rice variant, whose lineage is traced back to the Kame no O variety. The strain is gaining a lot of attention among brewers due to its suitability for sake production, although it presents a challenge to farmers owing to the unusual height of the rice stalks. This particular example is a result of specially contracted farming and a careful brewing process. Presenting fresh and lively at first, this progresses toward mineral notes, and a leaner, elegant body. Varying quantities of rice lees gives every bottle a unique quality, making each a one-off experience.
With a gentle flavor, light body, a delicate minerality, and clean finish, the focus here is on refreshment – dry without any heat or spice. The quality is excellent according to any measure, but together with the price it becomes exceptional.
Traditional presser named “Fune” is used presicely to brew this sake. This dignified and gentle one sake for dinner. At first, it starts of gentle and well-rouded palate, next savouries with a little astringent spreads in the mouth and finally finishes with acidity in aftertaste. You can feel variable body expanding gradually from the moment you open it. It was served for Business Classes on the International line of ANA.
Of the three incarnations of Zaku in a junmai style, Ho no moto offers the ideal balance of flavor and aroma. Presenting an initial scent of lychee and fruit character, proceeding into a subtle sweetness, and finishing with a light aftertaste, it expresses the character of rice grain in a gentle, harmonious manner, as its name suggests.
A combination of long fermentation at a low temperature, and use of a traditional fune-style press give this sake a smooth, refined quality, befitting of its ginjo grade. Notes of apple, under laid with a subtle and rounded savory backbone make this sophisticated dinnertime sake and landed it gold medals at the International Wine Challenge both in 2013 and 2016 – recognized as the most authoritative assessment of jozo-style sake in the world.
With a pressing method, the primary mash – moromi – is bagged and suspended, thereby relying on the force of gravity alone to act as a press, and yielding a small volume of exceptional quality sake. With a polish rate of 40%, this is the premium incarnation of Zaku. Both aroma and flavor are lavish yet abound with a sense of clarity. Featured as the toast at the G7 summit in Ise-Shima, 2016.
Within sake production, three terms are used to distinguish between stages in the pressing process: Arabashiri for the first portions, and Seme for the last, leaving Nakadori to refer to the most pure and prized portion drawn off during the height. Presenting a luscious ginjo-style aroma, mellow and elegant sweetness, and a glossy texture that permeates through the whole length, it seems to bring time to a stand-still. Delicate and refined to the utmost.
Once the long process of recovering the brewery itself was completed, efforts shifted to reclaiming their high status and authority in sake production, turning to the so-called 'diamond of sake rice' in the Aiyama variant. This daiginjo-grade sake in the junmai style makes use of a 40% grain polish and lengthy fermentation at a low temperature to give it a velvet-smooth mouthfeel from beginning to end. A scent of strawberries and vanilla gives way to charming and voluptuous savory notes.
While the initial clean-up and rebuilding process was still underway, Head Brewer Sumikawa was already undertaking the first steps back from the brink, courting the so-called ‘king of sake rice’ in the form of the Yamada Nishiki variant. Without declaring it on the label, this is daiginjio-grade in the junmai style, having undergone a grain polish of 50%, no filtration, and a single pasteurization. In accordance with the brewery ethos, the look is virtually indistinguishable from the pure water that imbued the original rice stalks, presenting a white-grape aroma, supple, almost fluffy mouthfeel, and gentle but lengthy finish, lingering on the palate.
Indulging in a penchant for word-play, the theme of this particular sake is Ichigo – which denotes both the word for 'strawberry' and the numbers 'one' and 'five'. As such, it is no surprise to find it packaged in such a vivid pink label, and having been drawn from the final stages of production in Tank No. 15 in the brewery. With a juicy and refreshing quality, balance of acidity and sweetness, and pronounced notes of strawberry, it both lives up to the name and delivers an attractive hot weather option. Being unpasteurised gives this variant a wilder, more lively character.
Indulging in a penchant for word-play, the theme of this particular sake is Ichigo – which denotes both the word for 'strawberry' and the numbers 'one' and 'five'. As such, it is no surprise to find it packaged in such a vivid pink label, and having been drawn from the final stages of production in Tank No. 15 in the brewery. With a juicy and refreshing quality, balance of acidity and sweetness, and pronounced notes of strawberry, it both lives up to the name and delivers an attractive hot weather option. Undergoing single-stage bottle pasteurization gives this variant a more subdued, rounded character.
Harnessing a combination of the traditional kimoto method – wherein a higher concentration of yeast is nurtured and forced to compete within the mash – and the latent characteristics of the Yamada Nishiki rice variant, this sake bears the hallmarks of a high lactic acid volume: an earthy character, packed with umami and notes of vanilla, rounded out with sharp acidity, giving it a crisp and clear finish.
The resolve of the brewer in cultivating a new age in sake production and consumption is reflected in all aspects of this product, from bottle and label designs to their contents. Without exaggeration, the flagship of the Emishiki brand is a masterpiece, using the kijoshu method – whereby special, partly-fermented sake is used instead of water – to deliver a rich profile packed with notes of vanilla and chocolate within a resounding but clean sweetness.
Beyond a veil of pear-scented aroma, the subtle sweet rice character and deep well of flavor make this a rich but surprisingly easy-drinking sake. Its clear and pure nature create a reinvigorating sensation, while quality and consistency have seen it awarded first place in the regional Liquor Review Committee – which combines Fukuoka, Saga, and Nagasaki Prefectures – as well as an astonishing ten consecutive wins at the highly-contested Sake Competition, multiple golds in each year of the U.S. National Sake Appraisal, and many more. The critics and populace are certainly united in praise.
1st place in the Sake Appraisal sponsored by the Fukuoka National Taxation Bureau! This is a joint sake evaluation judged by professionals in Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Saga prefectures. 1st prize for the second consecutive year at the U.S. National Sake Appraisal. This sake has a pleasant flavor that rounds out a complex form over a consistent central theme. It is an all-purpose sake whose good taste can be enjoyed either cool or heated.
Despite silver and gold accolades at both the International Wine Challenge and Warmed Sake Contest, respectively, the brewery discontinued production of its lauded Yamahai Junmai style in favour of the older kimoto method in 2014, pursuing a firmer, more crisp and distinctive profile. The succeeding Kimoto Junmai takes advantage of the high yeast concentration afforded through this approach to cultivate the most resilient strains and fully ferment the mash, resulting in high alcohol and very low residual sugars. Alternating between mild, deeply savoury, and lightly refreshing characters from initial taste, across the palate, and right through to after-taste, it beguiles you into repeating the experience with each sip.
Reflecting a tendency to understate their achievements, the name Chotto Omachi – or 'Just a Little Omachi' – is anything but. This is a masterpiece, encapsulating the voluminous character of the Omachi rice variant and displaying a deft control in its light texture and echoing flavor profile. A true exemplar of "heart-warming" sake.
Making exclusive use of Miyama Nishiki – a rice variant originating in the old province of Shinshu, equating roughly to modern Nagano Prefecture – this is ginjo-grade sake in the junmai style, with a grain polish of 55% – those being the optimum set of conditions for brewing this particular variety. A lifted, elegant aroma of pineapple greets the nose, giving way to a mellow sweetness and a clear-cut acidity, which broaden on the palate. Its solid and balanced qualities make this a masterpiece.
Minus 5 °C more than half a year. In 27 BY, rice for sake “Miyama Nishiki” was used, which has the highest experience as A French word “Elevage” means “aging” in English. Non-filtration original sake pressed in winter was aged live in a brewery. It starts of mature strawberry but develops notes of melon. Its features are well-rounded body with volume and still enough savories.
Using rice from Hyogo Prefecture, this daiginjo-grade sake in the junmai style pushes Yamada Nishiki to its limits with a 45% polish rate on the grain, leaving it to brew in a small tank under the coldest conditions, before undergoing bottling, a single pasteurization, and further maturation at 10℃. The result is a brilliant but delicate, aroma of fruits and superbly sculpted body. Thoroughly deserving of the name Kiwame – or 'Pinnacle'.
The term jikagumi refers to sake that has been bottled directly after pressing, which can result in a wide range of qualities, one of them being continued bottle fermentation, giving the finished sake a light spritz. The latent yeast gives this example a gentle aroma and natural sweetness, belying the glacial appearance. Fresh acidity greets your tongue upon contact, with the texture carrying through to the back of the palate, where it lingers.
As the label might suggest, Quadrifoglio refers to the lucky four-leafed clover, fittingly emblazoned in white over a field of green, just as the flowers are. With a slight cloudiness – due to some residual rice lees – the sake presents floral notes of pineapple, some subtle sweetness, and then moderate acidity leading to a crisp finish, before fading pleasantly.
Part of an ever-popular 'Italian series' – with flavours and labels riffing on a theme for each season – the Cicala reflects the character of summer, while the brown bottle acknowledges the trees that bear its raucous namesake on the label, the cicada. With its yeast strains producing notably high levels of malic acid during fermentation, both the aroma and flavor profile resemble that of apples – either crisp and refreshing, if served chilled, or showing a mild sweetness when served at room temperature. Perfect as an introduction to sake, or for those who struggle with other examples, and a well-balanced summer drink from any angle.
With primary flavors of citrus fruit or Muscat, it appears mild at first, then develops a plush, juicy, slightly sour character that rounds out the palate. Full-bodied but expertly balanced, it delivers an invigorating sensation, no better testified than in its Platinum award and top five selection in the 2017 Kura Master sake competition in France.
A French term, "liseur" denotes one with a deep passion and insatiable appetite for literature, and this sake embodies the principle, not in quantity, but in the depth of appreciation for a similar product of craftsmanship. When first poured, it presents as closed and inscrutable, but gradually opens up to reveal a more alluring character, with a refined aroma of Muscat, refreshingly sharp acidity, and a full mouthfeel that all harmonize perfectly. Recommended for those approaching sake for the first time or with a more delicate palate. Will continue to develop over time after uncapping.
Establishing a new foundation, overlaid with the tropical character typical of Ginjo grade sake, the “Bunkajin” Junmai Ginjo is one of three masterpieces of that style offered by this producer. With the other two making use of the Yamada Nishiki and Gin no Yume rice varieties, this limited edition uses Omachi rice exclusively. Being the oldest and most primitive rice strain grown in Japan, Omachi presents a technical challenge that all sake brewers wish to face at least – and, owing to the difficulty, perhaps only – once in their career. The rich body is immediately apparent, following quickly by acidity, before settling into a decadent and beguiling finish. The rich body is immediately apparent, following quickly by acidity, before settling into a decadent and beguiling finish.