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Sake Review: Spring Namazake

Mar. 04. 2022
by Namazake Paul

Daisekkei “Snow Valley” Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Namazake Genshu

When you open the cap, there’s a pop. Effervescence!  The tiny bubbles are clearly visible in the glass. The nose is savory with wet wool and sweet roasted chestnuts. The palate dances vivaciously with some great acid coming to the party relatively quickly. The finish is clean and pleasant. You will be the first ever in the US to try this Nagano brewery. I’m so excited, I just ordered 500 cups for the Advent Calendar

Koshinohomare Shiboritate Junmai Namazake Genshu 

Pours perfectly clear. The nose is soft and inviting showing talc and steamed rice. The palate rich but just as soft as the nose. We get some lime leaf and fennel, opening to lime custard. Nicely elevated acidity, especially against the soft backdrop. The finish is crisp and relatively short, consistent with many Niigata sake. The term often used is Kire for that crispness. 

Ichinokura Shiboritate Tokubetsu Junmai Namazake Genshu

Pours clear. Savory nose of toasted rice and roasted nuts. The palate is rounded with a bit of melon and pear but smooth with more toast and some spice. The finish is dry as the spice builds. Drink with salty, grilled foods as they would in Miyagi. This is another brand new Sake you will be the first in the US to taste. 

Gokyo Arabashiri Junmai Namazake Genshu

Pours clear. Big nose of ripe cherry skin and pineapple. Gokyo is back!!  Last year’s was 9/10, but this year we are back to 10/10. OMG so good. The palate is lively, especially when paired with cured meats. There’s classic yeast 9 cherry and honeydew but also characteristic house savory length. I get crispy poultry skin. The finish is very pretty with nice length. Arabashiri is the first pressing of the Nama. The most lively and most exciting. Made from locally grown Yamada Nishiki for the Koji rice and Nihonbare for the main rice.

Kamikokoro “Fuyuno Tsuki: Winter Moon" Junmai Ginjo Muroka Namazake

Pours just slightly yellow. Tropical nose of pineapple and starfruit. The palate is super plush – cashmere blanket soft. As you chew it, you unlock even more fruit. It just keeps giving, transitioning from yellow fruits to more red fruited such as strawberries. The finish is long and giving. As they typically do, Kamikokoro using rice only grown in their town. Brand new to the US and a Namazake Paul exclusive! 

Harushika “Shiboribana" Junmai Ginjo Namazake

Pours clear. Lovely nose of watermelon and a touch of chestnut. This will satisfy the cravings for the sold out, crowd favorite, fall release Hiyaoroshi. The palate has great fleshy cherry. The finish is long, delivering the crisp and not over ripe honeydew along with the cherry and watermelon. A complete package for the geek and your friend who had Sake once and didn’t like it.  I’m always a fan of their house yeast and it’s on full display. Made with Hyogo rice which is widely considered the best Sake rice growing region. A serious value. 

Kamikokoro “Toukagen” Shiboritate Junmai Ginjo Namazake Genshu

Pours clear. The nose is enormous. Flamboyant! Watermelon, rose petals and of course the white peaches this yeast was cultured from. There’s even some lime skin too. My gosh this is exciting. O how I missed this. It sold out so fast last year I only got 1 bottle for myself. The palate is actually quite elegant for as crazy as the nose is, though it certainly delivers what it promised. A bit drier than last year but still has some residual sweetness. Lovely. I’m sure it’ll sell out again. This is very much an Okayama product using local peaches for the yeast, local water and locally grown Akihikari rice polished to 58%. 

So a couple terms in there which might be new to you. 

Arabashiri | あらばしり

When the sake mash is set up in a Yabuta or Fune for pressing (to separate unfermented rice solids from alcohol), there is a certain amount that runs through the mesh by force of gravity alone before any pressure is applied. This sake is known as “arabashiri and this translates to “first run” or “rough run”.

Shiboritate | 搾り立て

Shiboritate is freshly pressed sake. The sake is not aged or cellared, but shipped directly after pressing.