Yamanari Brewery Junmai sake, Photo by Cindy Bissig

Sake Review – Junmai “Ran no Homare”

Nov. 26. 2020
by Cindy Bissig

Sake Review – Junmai “Ran no Homare"

Recently I had the chance to be given a bottle of “Ran no Homare" (蘭の誉) sake from Yamanari Shuzo in Okayama prefecture in the south of Japan. A small brewery that keeps in line with traditional brewing methods and the sake sings of that.

For over 200 years Yamanari Shuzo has been producing sake and prides itself using traditional equipment for all their sake, including their Daiginjo and Junmai sake. With an emphasis on keeping traditions alive, this has been reflected in the production methods, design, and ultimately in the taste of the sake being made at Yamanari Brewery.

The Look

Visually, I already loved it when it arrived, shipped in a nice box with a lovely design. The label itself quite traditional, maybe a little old-fashioned at first glance, a straightforward label telling you this is Japanese sake and what to expect. I personally really appreciate that, it makes it so much easier to buy sake.

What I particularly loved about the label here is, that when you look at it just a little bit closer, you will find some historical sketches depicting the sake brewing process back in the old times. People working in the brewery, a lovely detail that tells a story of what life was like back then. I always enjoy finding small details like that. It is very personal and I do think labels often tell us so much more about the sake than just the name, grade, or alcohol content. With this one, I get a really clear image that this is all about traditions and it perfectly aligns with what they are trying to accomplish. 

The Taste – 蘭の譽 – Honor of The Orchid

This Junmai sake, in my opinion, has quite a traditional taste, making it a great allrounder.  It is light, fresh with nice acidity to it, making it a great pairing with a variety of dishes. I find it well balanced, quite robust, which is partly due to its rice polishing rate of 70%. It also has a nice kick to it, that hits you when it touches your lips, but gradually softens leaving you with a warm mellow taste.

I suggest drinking this sake at room temperature as cooling it down makes it a tad too sharp and some of the aromas really come when it is slightly warmer. Making this a great sake for the colder months. This also suggests that it will withstand a bit of heat, so do warm it up if you can.

With the main note being anise seed and licorice, I find it goes very well with Izakaya style dishes. I am thinking about yakitori, tempura, gyoza. Or to add something a bit more western, I can definitely see it with french fries and imagine it goes well with pizza, as long as the toppings are on the salty side. The acidity of this sake is definitely a good match to cut through the saltiness and works very well with fried foods.

On another note, stay away from anything overly spicy, but I guess that applies to most sake. However, when in doubt I always feel like why not give it a try?

Facts

Semaibuai: 70%

Alcohol Content: 16.8%

Brewery: Yamanari Shuzo 

Location: Ibarashi, Okayama Prefecture