Hokko Masamune, 59jo (Gokujo), Junmai Ginjo

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...

Hokkomasamune, Junmai Ginjo, Kinmon Nishiki

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.