English Sake Brewer Master in Japan: Phillip Harper (2)


A lot has been written and will be written both here in Japan and abroad on Phillip Harper as he has, with the likes of John Gauntner, Timothy Sullivan and Melinda Joe, established himself as one of the references proving once for all that Japanese sake has at last expanded beyond the confines of this island for the good of all.
It is only a question of time when sake breweries will become a part of life like wine and beer abroad as demonstrated by the five existing branches of large Japanese breweries in the United States employing a full American staff and Moto I, the entirely owned and run American Sake Brewery.


What makes the difference is that Phillip has gone as far as becoming the only foreign sake “toji”/master brewer in a Japanese brewery, namely Ki no Shita Brewery in Kyoto Prefecture!
An Oxford graduate hailing from Cornwall, it took him 18 years of sheer courage and guts to break into the closely guarded world of Japanese sake to gain recognition and earn his master brewer status in 2001.
The media (including The Los Angeles Times) finally take good note of his achievements when he was formally asked by Owner Yoshito Kinoshita to become his new Master Brewer (incidentally Phillip had already held that position in Osaka for two years).

This the second of the three bottles I received from his fans in Tokyo. That particular one was sent to me by Etsuko Nakamura.

Kinoshita Brewery, TIME MACHINE Tamagawa
Dryness: -72
Acidity: 3.2 (very high compared to Shizuoka)
Rice milled down to 88%

Clarity: Slightly smoky (nothing wrong with this as it contains some lees)
Colour: Rich gold
Aroma: Powerful. Fruity. Plums
Body: Velvety
Taste: Powerful. Strong and pleasant attack. Complex. Flowery and fruity: plums and mirabelles. Memories of coffee beans and almonds.
Bitter chocolate peaking out later.
Liquorish with a hint of acidity.

Overall: I’ve been accused of not beingvery lyrical in my comments, whatever my feelings towards a wine or sake in spite of my great love for them. I suppose I’m too old to change! LOL
I waited until the very last glass (note, galss, not cup!) before writing my impressions.
Frankly speaking, an unknowledgeable person could be easily fooled into believing into thinking he is drinking wine! What with the bottle shape, the colour of the sake and the quaint label!
Liquorish, but not tart or overwhelming, I slowly savoured it like Sauternes or sweet white Port.
With plenty of translated explanations, it should hit the palate of some vaunted “tasters” anywhere in the world!


“We also do a barking mad sake called Time Machine that is made in the style of the Edo Period. Etsuko took a shine to it last year. We pressed this year’sTime Machine last week: specs are

SMV -70, Acidity 3.4, Amino acids 7.3, Alcohol 16.6.”
(Specs seem to vary with what is written on the labels)
Phillip later commented:
“The discrepancy in the data is because you drank last year’s
(slightly diluted) version: I gave the specs for this year’s
genshu – which, for your information, is already more deeply
coloured than the bottle you drank, only a week after pressing.”

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


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