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Juyondai, Onnomi -

For the 17th theartofsake Sake On-nomi, we are doing something really premium and very highly requested. A Vertical tasting of the Japanese Cult Sake Brand, Juyondai.

Elegant, #1 Brewery in Japan, Expensive, Value for Money, Not Worth the Money, Juicy, Sweet; These are some of the common things we hear about the brewery's sake. This time, you get to decide for yourself!

Juyondai (十四代) is made by Takagi Sake in Yamagata Prefecture. Founded in 1615, this brewery is currently on its 15th generation owner. There are actually another 2 sake brands under this brewery, but Juyondai is the most famous.

As one of the most expensive sake in the market, Juyondai is not only expensive but also has a the most premium entry pricing. Their entry level Honmaru, a tokubetsu honjozo, is around 10 times the price in Singapore from its equivalent from other breweries! This is actually due to market forces, and to how difficult is it to get a hold of the sake. 

Juyondai is famous for its unique, fragrant and fruity aromas and its very rich and concentrated flavour. The brewery also spends a lot of time and money in the development of new Sake Rice. They have created a few unique sake rice, Tatsunootoshigo, Sake Mirai, and recently Ushuhomare.

Another unusual thing about this brewery is they keep many things mysterious and secret, this may be a part of their appeal! They seldom grant visits and interviews, and they do not even have their own website.


1. Juyondai Honmaru (Tokubetsu Honjozo)
Refreshing and sweet flavours, with a rich and velvety mouthfeel, it has an off-dry finish. This Tokubetsu Honjozo is polished down to 55%, and the jozo alcohol added to it is made in-house.

2. Juyondai Nakadori Junmai Muroka 
This sake is unfiltered, giving it more breadth of taste compared to other Juyondai. It still retained its silky texture, and its fruity and floral aroma. Polished to 55%, this sake still maintains a good amount of umami.

3. Juyondai Ginsen (Ginjo)
This sake is made from the "king of sake rice", Yamadanishiki. It has a mild fruity nose, and sweet. Polished to 50%, it can technically be called a Daiginjo, but the brewery decided to just call it a Ginjo Sake.

4. Juyondai Nakadori Junmai Ginjo Yamadanishiki
Fruity and gorgeous aroma of melon, Juicy & Fruity without being cloying. Polished to 50%, This is one of Juyondai's signature sakes.

5. Juyondai Nakadori Daiginjo Yamadanishiki
This is probably the most characteristic Juyondai Sake. Clean, Fruity & Juicy. Polished to 35%, this sake is at the front gate of Juyondai's most premium Sakes.


Purchase your tasting sets at https://theartofsake.com/collections/ira-sake-onnomi

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Onnomi -

For the 16th theartofsake Sake On-nomi, we are doing cheese and sake pairing again! This time with a different line up of cheese and sake selection. Cheese was surprisingly easy to pair with sake despite their strong & complex flavour profile. However, it was quite a fun challenge to find the perfect sake pairing.

During our R&D, we tasted many pairings that worked well at the start but fell short of our pairing standard. Nevertheless, we have found the other (sake) half for all five of the delicious cheeses from Bake Hour! These pairings beautifully complement each other and enhances the best flavours of both the sake and cheese. 

Learn about the 5 different cheese that you would be having from our special guest, Shirley Lau, the owner of Bake Hour.  

 

1. Keiryu Daiginjo Jinbei X Brie
Pairing the Brie with Keiryu Daiginjo Jinbei was a breeze (pun intended). This sake enhances the buttery and milkiness of the brie while keeping the sweetness intact. The previously mild brie now dances on our taste buds with grace.

2. Toko Junmai Ginjo Genshu X Wyngaard
After trying to matchmake the headstrong, heavy, roasted &slightly bitter Wyngaard with 5 different sakes, we have all came to the consensus that the Toko Junmai Ginjo Genshu shall take a spot in our onnomi again. Unlike others we tried, this sake brings out the savoury, smoky aspect and reduces the bitterness with its flavourful profile. 

3. Nihonsakari Junmai Daiginjo Namazake X Asiago Pressato 
This was a challenging pairing as the cheese hits pungent and gamy. Yet, there is something really addictive about the Asiago Pressato that slowly grows on you, exposing its earthy flavour. The Nihonsakari Junmai Daiginjo Namazake stands as the victor, keeping the best of the Asiago Pressato &blending the gaminess into a cleaner and brighter taste. 

4. Kamoizumi Junmai Hiyaoroshi X OG Kristal 
Who would have thought that the new season's autumn sake would delicately balance the very classically cheesy OG Kristal? Since OG Kristal was packed with umami, many sakes we tried pushed it to the extreme - one even make it taste like straight up soy sauce. No thank you. However, the Hiyaoroshi surprised us all with its sweet and lightness while keeping the cheese in its aftertaste.  

5. Tsuki No Katsura Junmai Daiginjo Nigori  X Blue Stilton 
This blue cheese is less scary than most out there. It tastes like sea salt and seaweed with slight floral & herbal notes. Overall, really pleasant! We loved the nigori as it complements the Blue Stilton completely, allowing that unique "land" and "sea" taste to ride with the sake. 


Purchase your tasting sets at https://theartofsake.com/collections/ira-sake-onnomi

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onnomi -

For the 15th theartofsake Sake On-nomi, we will be doing something new. We will be doing a virtual sake brewery tour of Kojima Sohonten in Yamagata. They make the Toko and Kojimaya Sake brands. We will also be doing a Full Ginjo Tasting, with 3 different Junmai Daiginjos, 2 of them are exclusive drip-pressed sakes!

Kojima Sohonten has been continuously operating since 1597. They have recently converted to become an all-junmai brewery, and have removed distilled alcohol in their brewing process.

They have a old brewery that has been turned into a museum, and a modern brewing facility. The old brewery was used in filming one of SKII's first commercials!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCLSlDGChOo&ab_channel=SK-II
You can check it out from 1:18 at the above link.

The new facility is very well thought out, with a lot of modern equipment. I'm sure participants will enjoy the tour! 

1. Toko Junmai Ginjo Genshu
Pure ginjo aromas that consists predominantly of Melon & Nashi Pear. Juicy with good structure and body as expected from a Junmai Ginjo Genshu. 

2. Toko Junmai Daiginjo
A complex and deep tasting Honjozo from Nadagiku in Himeiji City, Hyogo. It was recently awarded GI Harima status, and they only brew using Yamadanishiki, which the district is world famous for.

3. Toko Junmai Daiginjo Shizuku
Powerful and pristine aromas of soft melon, pear, hints of green grass. Big and juicy on the palate with a velvety texture and soft umami. Finishes deep, long and elegant.  

4. Toko Junmai Daiginjo Yukimegami Shizuku
 Silky, delicate and crisp mouthfeel. Fruity and floral with notes of pear, peach, lychee, it is rich in the flavors of rice and yoghurt and has an excellent balance between sweetness and acidity.

5. Toko Ginjo Umeshu
Its Ginjo fragrance is so vivid you would forget this is plum sake, and its fruity flavor makes you imagine peaches, ‘La France” (European pear), and young plum.


Please purchase your tasting sets at https://theartofsake.com/collections/ira-sake-onnomi

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Competition -

The 14th International Sake Challenge (ISC) was held on Wednesday 16th September at Tokyo American Club. Over 120 of the leading Sake from across Japan participated.

This year, each sake was tasted by all the judges, and 8 Trophies, 21 Gold Medals, 40 Silver Medals, and 35 Bronze Medals were awarded. 


 

Sake Breweries in our Portfolio who won awards

Suzuki Sake Brewery (Hideyoshi)
Hideyoshi Junmai Daiginjo Matsuemon - Trophy (Junmai Daiginjo)
Hideyoshi Junmai Ginjo Shosei - Trophy (Junmai Ginjo)
Hideyoshi Daiginjo - Silver (Daiginjo/Ginjo)
Hideyoshi Junmai Daiginjo - Silver  (Junmai Daiginjo)

Dewazakura Sake Brewery
Dewazakura Sparkling AWA - Trophy (Sparkling)
Dewazakura Daiginjo - Bronze (Daiginjo/Ginjo)
Dewazakura Junmai Daiginjo Genshu - Gold (Junmai Daiginjo)

Watanabe Sake Brewery (Hourai)
Hourai Josen - Trophy (Futsu)
Hourai Junmai Ginjo Kadentezukuri - Gold (Junmai Ginjo)
Hourai Junmai Daiginjo Irootoko -  Silver (Junmai Daiginjo)
Hourai Tezukuri Junmai Hidahomare - Silver (Junmai)
Hourai Junmai Daiginjo Gokuiden - Bronze (Junmai Daiginjo)

Link to the website and other winners http://sakechallenge.com/

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Onnomi, Seasonal -

For the 14th theartofsake Sake On-nomi, we will be covering a new topic, Seasonality in Japanese Sake! The definition of seasonal sake is sakes that are only available in certain periods of the year.

Sake is usually only brewed in the cold months in Japan, from October to March/April, however it can be bottled throughout the year, this leads to certain seasonal releases throughout the year, as you drink certain sakes to celebrate the season, or festivals. 

AUTUMN

As fall arrives and sake breweries prepare to start brewing, they release their first sakes of the brew year, Aki-Agari and/or Hiyaoroshi. 

Hiyaoroshi sakes are usually brewed during the tail end of the previous brew season in Spring. They are pasteurised just once after brewing (namezume), and left to mature in tanks through the hot months, and released during Fall. These sakes tend to have a lively yet complex, deep flavour. 

SPRING

When a brewery starts brewing sake for the new brew year, they usually hang a sugidama (Cedar Ball) outside the brewery. It starts off green, and gradually turns brown, signifying that sake is ready for sale.

These new sakes are usually released near spring-time, and mainly labelled as Shiboritate (Freshly Pressed) and Arabashir (Free Run). You might also see the word Shinshu which means new sake. Some breweries also release Hanami (Flower Viewing) Sake, which are usually in pink labels, for drinking while viewing flowers in the Spring!

As the first sake release, Spring Sakes tend to be bottled almost immediately after pressing and released without being left to mature for a few months. As such, these sakes tend to be very bright, with big wild flavours, especially if they are namazakes.

SUMMER

During the hot summer months, breweries start selling Natsuzakes (Summer Sakes). These are optional releases, but appear to be a growing trend. They tend to appear in light blue bottles.

Summer Sakes tend to be very light flavoured with lowered alcohol. They are usually refreshing, and can also appear as sparkling, lowered alcohol, and higher acidity. They are also meant to be drunk very chilled, some are even meant to be drunk on ice! It may be suitable for beginners to sake!


Please purchase your tasting sets at https://theartofsake.com/collections/ira-sake-onnomi

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