“Sakamai/酒米”, or sake rice in Japanese is a variety of riice only exclusively in the making of Japanese sake. You will never find it on your table at a meal.
Sakamai has been traditionally grown only in some regions of Japan.
Shizuoka, for all being arguably the best when coming to Japanese sake, had to “import” its sakamai from other regions.
The problem is that such rice production is not only declining but also unpredictable when it comes to quality.
For example, if the grains of rice are split or broken one cannot make good-quality Japanese sake. The quality of rice will be assessed only upon receipt with the consequent problems if unsatisfactory.
Accordingly, Shizuoka Breweries have gradually come to encourage and rely on Shizuoka-grown sakamai with various success, especially their own brand of Yamanishiki rice or a local hybrid called Homare Fuji.
Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City who has always been willing to experiment, especially in old-style (forgotten) methods, came up with an original (limited) brand.
This sake is made with sakamai exclusively grown by Fujieda farmers.
But since the various batches of rice came in grains of different size, Mr Sugii could not really define his sake. It would qualify as a junmai if the grains were of similar size.
The process, dating back to the Meiji Area is the equivalent of “Yamahai” method, a way avoided by many breweries for its difficulty.
Sugii Brewery: Azekura Ishin
Rice milled down to 70%
Alcohol: 15.5 degrees
Acidity: 2.1 (high for Shizuoka!)
All rice being harvested in Fujieda in 2009
Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Golden hue
Aroma: Fruity backed by alcohol. Nuts.Custard, Memories of banana and vanilla
Taste: Strongish attack, warming back of the palate. Lingers for a short while with a welcome acidity.
Complex: Custard and macadamia nuts. memories of coffee beans/dry grapes/dry cherries.
Stay lighter than expected on its own or with food.
Overal: Very difficult to define. hence a very intriguing and inteesting sake. Completely “out of range” as a Shizuoka sake.
Deserves a second, third and more glasses. Strong ut pleasurable sake. Probably best appreciated as “nurukan/lukewarm”, although it would become drier.
Great with any food, although can be truly appreciated on its own.
definitely a sake deserving plenty of interest!
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