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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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