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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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