This is all there fundamentally is to Junmai grade sake: four ingredients. In this month's Saké Club we will explore how that combination of the same four ingredients can present wildly different flavor profiles, depending on the brewing processes.
A Taste of Tochigi
The Tentaka brewery, founded in 1914, is located in a landlocked region called Tochigi Prefecture. Tentaka is highly focused on sustainability and sourcing everything locally, and they are also one of only two breweries to be certified organic in Japan, the European Union and the U.S.
This saké uses locally grown, organic Gohyakumongoku rice milled to 65% of its original size, fermented using the old school Yamahai method. This, along with the relatively low milling ratio gives this bodacious brew higher acidity and a fantastic richness. Flavors of banana, mushrooms, and rice are the star of this savory brew. For an umami-licious experience, try with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms or pork loin.
Flawless Daiginjo From An Historic Brewery
Gekkeikan Sake Co. was founded by Jiemon Ikura in 1637, and in those nearly 400 years they have become a powerhouse in the Saké World. They were the first to establish a Saké Brewing Research Institute, the first to build a full-fledged bottling plant, and one of the first breweries to begin brewing overseas.
Horin Daiginjo is a light, ethereal, and vibrant saké thanks to its utilization of two different rice strains (Yamadanishiki and Gohyakumangoku) milled to 50% of their original size. The aromatics and flavors of Horin are delicate and fruit forward, with notes of honeysuckle and pear, with a round, creamy body. Sushi night anyone?