Akita Sake Connoisseurs’ Club

founding_members.jpgFrom all the pictures I’ve seen, Akita Prefecture is a place of great natural beauty and they make some pretty darn good sake, too.

I was thrilled when I heard about a tasting that would focus specifically on the sakes from this Prefecture. I love these region specific tastings – it’s the closest you can get to doing a tour of a prefecture’s breweries without paying the $6,000 airfare.

daimond_dust.jpgThe Akita tasting was the first official event of the recently formed Akita Sake Connoisseurs’ Club (ASCC) held at World Sake Imports offices in Manhattan. Once inside, I was greeted and immediately handed a ‘welcome beverage’. very nice!

It was a tasting size of Amanoto Hyosho Usu-Nigori (“Diamond Dust”, Junmai Ginjo, SMV -2, ALC 15.3%, acidity 1.3, Seimaibuai 50%) served with a sliver of fresh strawberry. Obviously, that added an interesting fruity feeling to the taste that played up the sweetness, but I must make a note to try this yummy nigori just on it’s own sometime. The rice solids left in this nigori were very subtle and light, which I really enjoy.

Chizuko_san.jpgScanning the rest of the room, I saw there were two tasting tables set up with a total of 12 Akita prefecture sakes.

Before we were let loose on the real tasting, Natsuyo Lipschutz had some opening remarks and introduced the founding members of the ASCC as well as the mission of the Club. Akita Native and our dear Sake Sommelier friend Chizuko-san “translated” part of the speech into Akita Prefecture dialect. Even though I don’t speak much Japanese it was really funny!

Chizuko-san then gave some advice on how to approach the tasting, starting with the lighter daiginjos first and working your way to the hearty junmais. The only problem was that when the tasting began, all 80 attendees swamped the table with the daiginjos! Soon enough however, people started milling about and I got to taste some of the daiginjos myself!

Asami with akitabareHere are the sakes that were being served.

  • Suirakuten Junmai Daiginjo (“Heaven of Tipsy Delight”, Akitabare Brewery, Seimaibuai 45%, SMV +5, Acidity 1.3, ALC 15.3% ) Notes: Tipsy Delight, Indeed! Super smooth and leaning a touch on the dry side. Just a perfect little package of sake yumminess. wrap it up – I’ll take it.
  • Shimizu no Mai Junmai Daiginjo (“Crystal Cascade”, Akita Shurui Seizoh Brewery, Seimaibuai 45%, SMV +3, Acidity 1.3, ALC 15.5%)
  • Yuki No Bosha Junmai Daiginjo (Saiya Brewery, Seimaibuai 40%, SMV +1, Acidity 1.6) Notes: Light and graceful with a touch of crisp fruit on the palate. One of my new favorites!
  • Lots_of_people.jpgHyosho Usu-Nigori Junmai Ginjo (“Diamond Dust”, Amanoto Brewery, SMV -2, ALC 15.3%, Acidity 1.3, Seimaibuai 50% ) Notes: This was our Welcome Drink as described above.
  • Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo (Saiya Brewery, Seimaibuai 50%, SMV +1, Acidity 1.9 )
  • Chokaisan Junmai Ginjo (“Celestial Joy”, Tenju Brewery, Seimaibuai 50%, SMV +1.0, Acidity 1.3-1.5, ALC 15.5%) Notes: To my taste, this was a Daiginjo in Ginjo drag. Complex and delightful, I went back for seconds – and thirds of this one.
  • Tenju_chokaisan.jpgBenimansaku Junmai Ginjo (“True Blue”, Hinomaru Brewery, Seimaibuai 56%, Acidity 1.6, ALC 16.2% )
  • Matsukura Junmai Ginjo (“Nature’s Serenade”, Dewatsuru Brewery, Seimaibuai 60%, SMV +1.0, Acidity 1.3-1.5, ALC 15.5% ) Notes: This was a rich but not terribly nuanced brew.
  • Akinota Junmai Ginjo (“Harvest of Joy”, Hideyoshi Brewery, Seimaibuai 55%, SMV +3.5, Acidity 1.4, ALC 15.5% )
  • Jizake Monogatari Junmai Ginjo (“Story Teller”, Naba Shoten Brewery, Seimaibuai 55%, SMV +2, Acidity 1.7, ALC 15.5% )
  • Namahage Junmai (Kariho Brewery, SMV +8, Acidity 1.7, ALC 15.5% ) Notes: this is our old friend, Mr. “Extremely Dry!”. yeah, if super dry is your thing – this is your sake!
  • Koshiki Junzukuri Junmai (Akitabare Brewery, Seimaibuai 60%, SMV +2, Acidity 1.8, ALC 14.5%)

All in all, the Akita Tasting was a smashing success! The most fun was trying to taste a common thread amongst all these sakes from the same part of Japan. Not really that easy to do, but tasting is fun. I sure am looking forward to the next event put on by the Akita Sake Connoisseurs’ Club. In the meantime, I can buy a lot of Akita sake with that $6000 I saved on airfare – OK, ok… the next round is on me.