Sunday 15 April, 2012

One Sake, Two Sake, Red Sake, Blue Sake

LB-Event-Poster




Even as the American palate expands dramatically in terms of wines and spirits, Japanese brewed sake remains remarkably misunderstood in the US. The selection is so broad—even just what’s available here—that every tasting provides more opportunity for knowledge and enjoyment. A few weeks ago, Bevi distributors’ Sia Marshall hosted a tasting of Kiuchi brewery’s Hitachino […]




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LB Japanese Event 3

Even as the American palate expands dramatically in terms of wines and spirits, Japanese brewed sake remains remarkably misunderstood in the US. The selection is so broad—even just what’s available here—that every tasting provides more opportunity for knowledge and enjoyment.

A few weeks ago, Bevi distributors’ Sia Marshall hosted a tasting of Kiuchi brewery’s Hitachino Nest beers and many varied sakes at Little Buddha, the atmospheric and still somewhat under-appreciated Asian fusion restaurant at Palms casino resort (a cousin of the Buddha bars).

Of the 30-odd sakes poured, these were the standouts for me:

Kiuchi-Kurahibiki-Daiginjo-Sake.f_2_e.wine_3032548_detailKiuchi Shuzou Kurahibiki: A Daiginjo brewed with 43% polished “Yama Danishiki” rice to 16% alcohol, Kurahibiki showed a clean custard apple/melon taste and texture with a dry slightly citrusy finish. Great for milder sushi rolls and sashimi.

funakijunmaiginjonakakumi

Funaki Nakakumi: A Junmai Ginjo with 16% alcohol, this won a Silver Medal at the World Wine Championships. I experienced light sweet tropical fruit with a round almost creamy finish. Would pair well with grilled fish or poultry.

tsukasa-botan_sake

Tsukasa Botan “king of the peonies:” Another Junmai Daiginjo, slightly sparkling, with delicate floral and very slight citrus notes. Pair with delicate, light sashimis.

Kiuchi Shizou Tarusake: A Junmai with 15% alcohol, Tarusake is unusually aged for three years in Akita cedar barrels, yielding almost sherry-like raisin, rum and honey notes—and naturally, a little wood. Pair with grilled foods, eel, or enjoy alone.

asamurasakiKiuchi Asamurasaki: Another unusual choice, Asamurasaki is brewed with red rice—once common, now almost unknown—to 14% alcohol. I detected tart notes of sour milk and barley. I might pair this with cheese, milder desserts, or enjoy alone.

YumehibikiOoyama Yume Kobo Yumehibiki “Brightly”: Perhaps the most popular bottle at the tasting, this is actually a 21% alcohol Umeshu--shochu infused with plum, and aged 3 years in stainless. True to its name, Yumehibiki has a bright sweetness and smooth character that will hold up against any sushi and definitely get the party started.

With Bevi's Sia Marshall

With Bevi's Sia Marshall

Bevi are the exclusive distributors of Hitachino’s great varieties in Las Vegas—a coup you’d think they would crow more about. All of the Hitachinos were poured, including their Amber, IPA, Lacto Sweet Stout, Espresso Stout, White Ale, Weizen and strong Belgian XH. I tried four of them, but beer fans don’t need to hear my opinions. They know they’re all quality, character-driven but drinkable, fun versions.

Kiuchi, in Naka, Ibaraki, dates to 1823 (though they’ve only been making the Hitachinos since 1996). They are one of the oldest, continuously family owned breweries in Japan.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 2011


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