(Mr. Nakashima of Toshiya Brewery going for a second check?)
On Wednesday March 6th, I attended my first very official tasting session thanks to a personal invitation gracefully granted by Mr. Haruju Nakashima, the Master Brewer (« toji ») at Yoshiya Brewery. It was an entire new experience for me and could have also been so for older hands.
The title, « Shizuoka Ken Toji Kikizake Kenkyukai » could be translated as « Shizuoka Prefecture Sake Tasting Reasearch Session conducted by Master Brewers », or « Shizuoka Prefecture Sake Master Brewers Reasearch Tasting Meeting », or something else, whatever you like.
I arrived at 13:00 as requested, just to find out that the « Tasting Research » had taken longer than expected. I was not in a hurry, and waited in the lobby within earshot of the conversations held by all the reps, owners, Master Brewers of the Breweries which had fielded their concoctions for the competition whose results will be announced to the media on the 14th of March and served for public tasting on the 23rd of March at the same place, Mokusei Hall in Shizuoka City.
As no one knew me among them, I could listen in all impunity (I won’t be able to do that next time!) the semi private conversations. I realized it was not all harmony. Some gentlemen were plainly ignoring each other…
Finally we were called inside by Mr.Nakashima who seemed to be in charge and invited to taste the sake on display. I had a little chat with the Yoshiya Brewery toji and mentioned that his very dry Chuuei honjozo had been thought as a junmai ginjo by my friend tasters in Tokyo.
Was he smiling? Was he smirking? He obviously took it as a personal compliment (Melinda, put that ladle back onto its rack!)
17 Breweries were repesented in a row of junmai and two rows of Ginjyo:
Sugii (Suginishiki), Doi (Kaiun), Hana No Mai, Isojiman, Fujinishiki, Yoshiya (Chuumasa), Senjyu, Takashima (Hakuin Masamune), Shidaizumi, Tenjingura Hamamatsu (Shusseijo), Eikun, Hatsukame, Kamisawakawa (Shosetsu), Wakatake, Haginishiki, Fujimasa (Chiyonomine) and Sanwa (Shizugoromo).
We were given enough time to try all in a loud spitting concert. I kept to the ones I did know well as I had to go back to work at 5:00!
Then we had to go through some « announcements » made by the 6 judges, including one from Nagoya (?) who looked more like a jaundinced stork with his long emaciated frame ensconced inside a regional civil servant garb, and those of official reps of the Prefectural Government. Slighty disappointing, but understandable, as they could not reveal the resullts.
They notably said that despite the adverse climatic conditions, Shizuoka Ken had again produced great brews that would definitely stand a chance at national competitions. I found this a bit out of place as some big names had not bothered to participate. I had been informed in advance by some Breweries that they were interested in higher circles…
I did not bother too much about listening any longer and instead greeted in my own manner a couple of Master Brewers who were obviously bored. After the « speeches », we were invited to sample the exhibits again. Actually the true reason is that some « friends » had arrived, including some ladies. I kept apart and concentrated on observing the whole exercise. I was proved right when a big company reps approached me to exchange name cards. At least, I have one more easy visit to enjoy soon!
I just will have to keep out of politics!