English Sake Brewer Master in Japan: Phillip Harper (3) (Postnotes added!)


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 third of the three bottles I received from his fans in Tokyo. That particular one was sent to me by Melinda Joe.

Kinoshita Brewery, Tamagawa, Tetsukezu Genshu Junmai Ginjo
Rice: Gohyakumangiku
Rice milled down to: 60%
Alcohol: 18~19 degrees (high as it is a genshu/unaltered alcohol contents)

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Transparent
Aroma: Fruity, elegant. Strawberries, apricot.
Body: Velvety
Taste: Strong attack backed by alcohol.
Shortish tail. Warms up back of the palate.
Complex. Junmai tingle.
Fruity and dryish: apricots with hints of strawberries, almonds and macadamia nuts.
Dry almonds making a regular comeback.
Holds its own well with food, but revealing different facets, especially strawberries with a dry finish.

Overall: Elegant and easy to drink in spite of high alcohol contents.
For once, similar to Shizuoka-brewed sake.
Combines fruitiness and dryness into a remarkably palatable (eminently drinkable) creation!


The specs for that sake are:

SMV +4, Acidity 1.7, Amino Acids 1.5, Alcohol 18.7.

It was brewed with the same organic rice used to make the Konotori kimoto you reviewed the other day – at 60% polish this time.
Though it doesn’t seem to have made an impression on you, that sake isslightly effervescent. Bubbly sake is usually made either by refermenting in the bottle (like Champagne…), or injecting gas into the sake itself. Oh,and a few people do a kind of sparkling wine thing with secondary fermentationin tanks. Tetsukezu bubbles are different, because they derive from the originalfermentation in the mash itself. We trap them in by a secret method that I can’t
reveal, except to say that it is as high-tech as all the other stuff we do at Tamagawa.

Regards, Philip

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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