Shizuoka Sake Tastings by the Tokyo Geeks: 1-2-3-4-5


Tasting 1

For more information please visit Etsuko Nakamura’s excellent blog, Tokyo Foodcast

The best way to promote Shizuoka Sake is to send samples to real sake connoisseurs up in Tokyo and have them analyze them in blind tasting sessions!
Although I describe myself as a Shizuoka Sake Lover, I will never reach the proficiency of these ladies and gentlemen who have made it an integral part of their living!.
Here are the results of the latest Quizz sent to Etsuko Nakamura, Melinda Joe and their Jolly Good Friends:

The first bottle (« white one ») was brewed by Kumpai Brewery in Shizuoka City in March 2007:

What did we think it was?
2 – Honjozo, 4 – Junmai including 1 Nama, 1 – Ginjyo


Fragrance: Light, fruity, candy, hint of alcohol, ethyl caproate aroma, yeasty, floral, banana, unfiltered muroka aroma?
Taste: Good balance, nama green, sweet attack, robust, rustic, bubbly at the beginning with light ending
Aftertaste: Sharper aftertaste/good, dry, slightly metallic/burnt? lingering, wood/organic?
Overall: Slightly sweet that goes well with scallop sashimi, sensitive, begins to get heavier with higher temperature, doesn’t leave an impression, “Quick chat with a friend on the way to catch a train.”

Good results as this is:

« Kumpai Sakura »
Junmai Ginjo, Nama genshu (Shinshu), Yamada Nishiki Rice 100%, Rice milled down to 55%
My compliments!
The second bottle (« blue one ») was brewed by Doi Brewery in Kakegawa City in March 2007:

What did we think it was?
2 – Junmai or Jungin, 1 – Jungin Nama, 1 – Junmai or Honjozo with a hint of nama muroka, 1 – Junmai, 1 – Honjozo


Fragrance: More nama than 1, melon, delicate, pear, light, new sake fragrance
Taste: Sweet with a hint of bitterness, stronger taste with more flavors than 1, well rounded compared to 1, taste banana type sweetness at the beginning with a light finish, melon/round, not nama muroka
Aftertaste: Pop!, higher acidity, more bitterness, alcohol aftertaste, very sweet in finish, long and finishes well
More balanced than 3, fresh/full/blooms, “I started out disliking #2 slightly, but it really came together with some air and time, temperature”. More weight, more extreme, w/r/t sweetness & bitterness “Dinner with work mates after a hard day’s work”

Also excellent results as it was:

« Kaiun Hana No Ka »

A very difficult proposal as it was brewed in March 2007 in the old way for the first time in a hundred years!
Junmai, Genshu Nama Sake, Takatenjin Koshihikari rice: 23%, Fuji Homare Rice: 77%, rice milled down to 55%

My hat off again!

There was a third bottle, but it was a present, not a quiz. They got it right, though!

We are all going to have a virtual tasting in 3 weeks. make sure to read our comments!


Tasting 2



The Tokyo Geeks were at it again, and I must Say that they did pretty well as the sake I sent them came from Sugii Brewery, Fujieda City, a brewery notorious for its unpredictability.
The mystery sake was:

Junmai Ginjo
100% Yamada Nishiki Rice from Hyogo Prefecture
Rice milled down to 50%
Yeast/Kobo: Shizuoka HD-1, NEW-5
Dryness: +5
Acidity: 1.2
Brewed in March 2007.

Etsulo Nakamura’s notes:
Over all-very nice sake that goes well with food.
Color- yellowish
Aroma- lighter fruit aroma, ginjo aroma
1st sip- nice lingering aftertaste
After 2nd sip- ricey, taste banana at the tip of tongue, burning
sensation at the end

After I was completely defeated at the last week’s tasting, I learned that either my instincts are completely wacked or I cannot always follow the guidelines of « typical » classifications. That being said, I thought this one is ginjo, but could be honjozo or even daigin.

Melinda Joe’s notes:Color: faint amber tint
Clarity: perfectly clear
Body: leans towards medium
Aroma: delicious, smooth, fruity, hints of citrus and banana
Flavors: lychee, green banana, rice, stinging alcohol, bitter notes in finish
Notes: constantly changing; noticeable tingling at the back of throat; a little sticky; subtle; worked very well with food

This was another hard one. I thought it to be honjozo or ginjo, but…it’s a little too fragrant for honjozo, so Ginjo?
Tasting 3

Here are the results of the latest Blind tasting of Shizuoka Sake by the Tokyo Geeks:

Etsuko Nakamura notes:
Bottle 1
OK, I think this one could have thrown me off.
At first, I thought this was Honjozo, but now I’m not sure.
Dry and quick finish, room temperature or even warmed up a bit by holding the glass was good.
Everyone loved this with food. It went especially well with Melinda’s special chicken dish with black beans. (Oh, that was good!)

This is why I am not sure. I cheated and looked at the cap. So, I figured out it was from Hakuin Masamune. Looking at their product line, Honjozo is green bottle, not brown. So, is this Josen? Or am I totally off and this is one of those not-for-sale Yamahai?
Either way, it was good.

Bottle 2
Dark Green Bottle
I thought this was Junmai Nama with a bit of ricey aroma for just one quick second. Everyone mentioned pear or melon which I tasted at the end as I was sipping. So, could it be Ginjo? But, it did not have a really strong Ginjo aroma. Nice well balanced aftertaste. To drink by itself, thiswas my favorite.

Now, I guessed this is either Kunpai or Hatsukame. Kunpai because this was sent after we talked to folks from there and I do remember their sake had really nice balance. I have never had Hatsukame, but you mentioned in your blog that we would get to taste Takegami Toji’s work.
So, am I totally off?

Melinda Joe’s notes:
A shade darker than #2.
Nose dominated by ricey aroma, but smells dry. Little to no fruit smells.
Definitely dry but heavier than expected.
Alcohol apparent, especially toward the back.
Very ricey, moments of rich flavor but quite restrained.
Smart finish, disappears quickly.
Eats well, not my first choice for drinking alone.
Dry, quiet, elusive.


Pretty clear.
Very fruity nose, smells sweet.
Very smooth texture. Fresh but heavy.
Fruity attack, right up front. Hints of nashi, perhaps green apple skin.
Flavor pushes forward. Sweetness and acidity detectable in the finish.
Alcohol apparent.
Nice as an aperetif, but not as flexible foodwise as #1.
Smooth, dense, maroyaka

The bottles were:

#1 is Junmai Ginjo by Takashima Brewery/Hakuin Masamune in Numazu City. Rice milled down to 50%. Mr. Takashima advised us to drink it at least at room temperature. It does have particular characteristics. I personally like it vey much! Interestingly enough, Mr. Takashima confided that he put as little information as possible on his labels! Talking of labels, it is a beautiful one.

#2 is Junmai Ginjo by Hatskame Brewery in Okabe Cho, Shida Gun. Yamada Nishiki rice 100% (Hyogo Prefecture), Rice milled down to 50%.. I liked it very much, too.
Tasting 4

This is the first bottle tasted by Melinda Joe and the Tokyo Geeks in December 2007:

Gotemba-Wakamizu by Negami (Kinmei) Brewery, Gotenba City (made with water freely gushing out of a well dug up 550 metres high against Mount Fuji!)
Tokubetsu Junmai
Rice: Gotemba Koyama Rice (local rice)
Rice milled down to 55% (extravagant!)

Aroma: low, subtle; alcohol; suggestive of dryness
Flavor: melon on the attack; very dry; hints of rice midway; you really have to search out the sweetness; however, becomes sweeter and fuller with time and heat.
Finish: clean, disappears quickly

I rather enjoyed this crisp, straightforward sake.

This sake didn’t work well with fish; it tasted a little fishy. Saltier food, like the fugu roe, brings out a banana flavor but also bitterness. The worst match was the Chinese bacon. The best match was the yuzu kosho grilled lamb; the sake was able to withstand the spice.

Tasting 5: Oomuraya Brewery/Oikawa no Uta

This was the second bottle tasted by melinda Joe and the Tokyo Geeks in December 2007:

Oikawa no Uta by Oomuraya (Wakatake) Brewery
Junmai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki rice
Rice milled down to 60%

Aroma: similarly low, but not as dry
Flavor: a sugary (sugarcane?) start; leads into ricey and lactic flavors (I called this « Rice Krispy Treat »); marshmallowish; toasty; bitter notes emerge toward the back
Finish: slightly acidic, sticky; reminiscent of the finish on a piece of chocolate

This sake seemed more complex and softer. I’d like to try it nurukan.

With the fish, it was bitter, not a good match. It went better with the salty roe, but didn’t finish well. It paired badly with the Chinese bacon, but also went nicely with the lamb. The sweetness seemed to balance the spice in the dish.

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