Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring brews at last!

Spring is finally arriving here in Hokkaido, although we still have about a month left until the cherry blossoms come.
In celebration of the spring season, it's time for some spring sake!

This time I would like to introduce a brewery that you probably have never heard of (although they did enter their sake into the U.S. national sake appraisal in 06, 07, and 08). I know I hadn't before the breweries Toji gave us a call, out of the blue, to let us know he was coming for a visit.  I have to admit that we were a little put off by this first impression (as most of our sake selection is built out of long term relationships and hard work, not sudden phone calls), but the sake we tasted was fantastic, so we decided to give it a go.  We have been carrying this brand for almost a year now and it has created a pretty big fan base. I bring to you:

本洲一 / Honshu-ichi
 春限定 おりがらみ純米酒
Limited Spring release Origarami Junmai-shu
Alcohol: 16-17% / Polish: 65%
SMV: +4
Umeda Shuzo / Hiroshima Prefecture

Tasting notes:
On the nose: Light and slightly sweet, with hints of fruit and flowers over a base of rice and koji. A very inviting nose.

On the palate: Very full bodied with a burst of ricy sweetness from the Ori (Origarami or Ori-zake is kind of like a Nigori, but with less solids. Ori is the solids), followed by strong acidity and a slight astringency, giving it a bit of a sweet and sour tanginess.  Fruity with a quick clean finish.

Other notes:
  • Honshu-ichi is a really really really small brewery. With a brewing capacity of a little under 500 Koku (1 koku is roughly equal to 100 Issho-bin or 180L. 500 koku would then be 90,000L or 23,775 Gallons for those of you living in the US), which is or smallest brewery and a small fry in the sake world where most breweries do about 1,000~2,000 Koku or more.
  • Origarami is a type of sake very similar to a Nigori. Sometimes you will even hear people refer to it as a Usu-Nigori (thin nigori or only lightly cloudy). What exactly does this mean? This:
The Ori is settled at the bottom of the bottle. A little hard to see but it is a really fine white almost milky substance with very few large pieces.

Here I gave the bottle a little shake so you can see the Ori better. Once thoroughly mixed it looks more or less like a regular Nigori.

  • One of the fun things about a Origarami is: you get two sakes in the same bottle. Now don't start thinking "yeah if I mix the two half bottles in my fridge together, I have two sakes in one bottle too!" Although that is technically true, that's not quite what I'm getting to here. More precisely you get two different flavor profiles out of the same sake. By this I send out a challenge: Go out and buy a bottle of Origarami (a good lighter nigori is Probably ok too Usu-nigori better), let the bottle sit until the Ori is all settled at the bottom of the bottle. Without shaking the bottle carefully pour yourself a glass, and taste it.  Then give the bottle a light shake (more like putting the cap back on then tipping it upside down and back slowly) then pour out another glass and compare the two. If you think they taste exactly the same, then I really want to know what you are drinking!
So keep your eyes out for a bottle of Honshu-ichi near you, because it is a sure hit!

More to come!

Meishu no Yutaka staff

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