The Sake Cru saddles up to the barThe Sake Meetup group, well, ‘met up’ last night at Landmark for a private tasting. It was quite fun as usual. This night was a study in old friends and new friends… this goes for both the sake AND the people!



I knew two of the sakes that were served on sight. (see, I am learning!) These familiar friends were Mineno Hakubai and Otokoyama We started with an old standby Otokoyama “Man’s Mountain”. Check out my last review of Man’s Mountain here. It tasted quite dry.

Paul preps the tasting and chills the sakeI actually think this Junmai may be a little softer and rounder if you drink it the day after it’s been opened.



Another familiar standby was Mineno Hakubai. Check out my review of this sake here. Old Mineno has been dubbed the “smooth operator” and it didn’t disappoint.

If you see this on the sake menu your next time out, it’s a solid choice if you’re not sure what to try.

Our two nigoris: Hitoimusume and RihakuPaul and Lefty did the organizing for tonight. Thanks guys!! They picked up some great sake snacks – crackers, cheese, mochi as well as Paul’s secret ingredient – banana chips – who knew?


I was so glad to see Amanda on hand as well. We always have fun. Great to get her perspective on what we were tasting and an update on Fiasco, too.



There were some sakes that were new to me as well. It’s always a treat to try something new – you’ll always learn something.

Masumi Arabashiri Name Sake just chillin' outThe new sake kids on the block were Nama Masumi Arabashiri, Rehaku Ginjo Nigori and Hitorimusume Junmai Nigori.



Personally, I really enjoyed the Nama Masumi Arabashiri (ALC 17.5%, SMV=0). It’s a classic nama. If you looked up Nama in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of this sake. It’s Nama-ness was hard to miss: young, fresh taste, super fragrant, floral and fruity.

Both Nigoris were creamy and went down smooth. it was a marked contrast to the somewhat sharp and dry Otokoyama. To my palate the Rehaku had the upper hand.

I think it’s fun to compare nigoris. Seems to me that nigori appreciation is an acquired taste. I disliked them at first, but now I’ve really come to enjoy them.

Mimi Checks out OtokoyamaThere were also some really nice new folks at the meeting – Scott, Nick and Mimi. Great to meet you guys and I hope to see you again.

See? You get the best of both worlds when you try new sakes with new friends and familiar sakes with familiar friends… or is that vise versa? um… Kanpai!












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  1. […] Keith Norum was the english-speaking brewery representative on hand to provide all kinds of helpful information as well as to help with translation for Mr. Nasu. I got to talk to Kevin briefly and asked him how he got such an awesome job. Well, I learned that speaking Japanese and actually living in Japan are great first steps as well as going to barbecues. Sign me up! The first sake out of the gate was a wonderful Nama I was already acquainted with: Arabashiri Nama Ginjo (SMV=-1, Seimaibui=55% ALC=17.5%). This is one of the sakes we tasted at our April ‘06 NYC sake meetup. It was as fresh and floral as ever and a real standout. It was quite a kick to see a sake again and then meet the brewer that actually made the sake! quite a trip. Kevin explained to everyone assembled about how a nama is produced and why it’s so important to drink them when they are fresh and young. Also keep refrigerated as they totally skip the step of pasteurization to retain that vibrant “draft” taste. I really enjoyed this sake and went back for a second taste or two over the evening. Next Master brewer Nasu introduced a junmai: Okuden Kantsukuri (SMV=+3, Seimaibui=60% ALC=15%). He explained how this sake would be a candidate for heating if you were in the mood. How different temperatures bring out different flavor profiles. Kevin warned never to bring sake up to a piping hot temperature but rather simply gently warm it. Piping hot sake loses all nuance and texture and is really just a waste. Mr. Nasu went on to explain that this is a great casual sake for informal sharing, hanging out with friends and just enjoying with food. I agree. this Junmai was a treat – and a real discovery. I would call this the perfect “table sake”. Something to have on hand in a larger quantity to sip and enjoy with a lot of guest over a homemade dinner. At this point in the evening They started the slide show to explain about Masumi brewery and the brewing process. This was a great presentation that explained where the brewery was located and all the steps in the brewing process: Water, Koji, rice, milling, yeast etc. Lefty and KC had several questions for Mr Nasu which he seemed happy to answer. As the very last slide, we also got to see a shot of the entire team at the brewery. Their outfits reminded me a little bit of the Mike Teevee “wonka-vision” scene from the first Willy Wonka Film, but regardless, you could tell they were proud of their work… and they should be! This is a good point to mention the hors d’oeuvres that Sakagura whipped up to compliment the Masumi sakes. Dishes included a shrimp salad, tofu with a yummy miso sauce, pan fried soft shell crab wrapped in cucumber slices (my favorite) and some type of pickled bean that Aki loved and knew from Japan, but I had never seen before. The food was just great! The only drawback was that I found it difficult to drink with one hand and eat the small delicious hors d’oeuvres with chopsticks. Well, I’m sure I’m not the first and won’t be the last cocktail party-goer to have this little problem. The good news was that if you did misplace your drink, nothing could be easier than getting a refill! Now that we had our appetites whetted and we were all informed about brewing, Masumi unleashed the big guns and had us now sample the Yumedono Daiginjo (SMV=+5, Seimaibui=40% ALC=17%). This was a really great daiginjo. […]

  2. […] The first sake out of the gate was a wonderful Nama I was already acquainted with: Arabashiri Nama Ginjo (SMV=-1, Seimaibui=55% ALC=17.5%). This is one of the sakes we tasted at our April ‘06 NYC sake meetup. It was as fresh and floral as ever and a real standout. It was quite a kick to see a sake again and then meet the brewer that actually made the sake! quite a trip. Kevin explained to everyone assembled about how a nama is produced and why it’s so important to drink them when they are fresh and young. Also keep refrigerated as they totally skip the step of pasteurization to retain that vibrant “draft” taste. I really enjoyed this sake and went back for a second taste or two over the evening. […]

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