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Sake review: 3 Namazakes

Jul. 09. 2022
by Namazake Paul

Shichi Hon Yari “The Seven Spearsmen" Junmai Muroka Namazake

Pours a clear color. Nice grain on the nose but it’s subtle and relatively soft. There’s talcum, just a hint of pear juice and freshly dried hay. This is playing tricks though because it’s a blockbuster in the mouth. Incredibly thick palate with lots of pear juice. Chewy! Fleshy! There’s no way you could predict the depth of the palate from the soft nose. The finish is relatively long but clean echoing more of the grain from the nose. Enjoy this before and during dinner.

Tomita one of the oldest and smallest breweries in Japan: founded in the 1540s and operated with only 4 employees – a Junmai specialist. They even have antique spears from the 1500s. The rice variety is a relatively new one though, developed in the 1960s. It’s designed for Junmai type sake where the rice is the dominant character, not fruity Ginjo aromas. It’s expensive to work with because it’s not as highly bred as some other more common rice like Yamadanishiki.

Given the small production volume and high quality, this Sake is very difficult to find, even in Tokyo. 

Seikyo “Live Heirloom" Omachi Junmai Ginjo Namazake

It pours clear and smells of rice, fennel, roasted nuts. The texture is round as we get waves of the honeydew melon typical of yeast #9. There’s some fleshy blueberry too but this is really about the umami drive of Omachi. It finishes dry but chewy. Given the texture, this is incredibly versatile with food. Eat with everything from burgers to roast pork belly to heavy braises.

Chikurin “Otoro" Junmai Ginjo Muroka Namazake Genshu

Yes that’s Otoro, like the choicest cut of tuna. Pours clear with a slightly savory nose at first which then gets smothered with rich fruit. The palate delivers on the honeydew and finger lime. Finishes with medium length. This is, as in years past, is a blockbuster. You might try it side by side with the pasteurized version which is actually rested for a year before release. Made with estate grown Yamada Nishiki polished to Daingjo levels of 50%. Okayama grows some of the best rice in Japan and it shows here.

I got to meet the brewery owner last month. Here we are!