Where’s the Fire? Well, for the coolest dudes in Edo-period Japan it was where ever you would find the Kaga-tobi, or the Kaga Clan Firemen. These firefighters were viewed by the general public as masculine and tough but above all they were greatly admired for their bravery at fighting fires in a time when Edo buildings were constructed mainly of wood, bamboo and rice paper, making them susceptible to devastating fires.
The mythos of the dashing firefighter survives to this day, and Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery located in Japan’s beautiful Ishikawa Prefecture, used this idea as an inspiration for their flagship product being imported into the US: “Kagatobi Sake“
Kabatobi brand sake is one of several brands produced by the Fukumitsuya Brewery. The Brand’s leader is the scrumptious Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo. Kagatobi Ai is a study in what puts the “dai” in “daiginjo”. I find this brew to really be a textbook example of what makes daiginjo near and dear to my heart. It’s smooth on the palate and the finish lingers, evocative of the soft essence of mild fruit. The taste is a testament to how well crafted this sake is. Light. Lovely. Luscious. Trust me.
Next is Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo. The Junmai Ginjo grade in Kagatobi’s lineup is another study in capturing the essence of it’s class. It’s full frontal Junmai Ginjo. What I especially like about this one is that the brewers surfaced lovely hints of rice through in the nose and palate, balanced with a medium body and soft texture. Being neither too dry, nor too sweet Kagatobi is a good match for folks who like their sakes easy drinking and smooth. A bit more body than the lighter Diaginjo, this Junami Ginjo is a fan favorite!
The market for very dry sake is vast and I think many people gravitate to extra dry sake to push the envelope of their sake tastes. Kagatobi rises to the challenge with their entry into the “super dry” category: Kagatobi Cho Karakuchi Junmai Yamahai. This karakuchi wear’s it’s +12 SMV rating as a badge of honor. Also made using the traditional Yamahai method, the Cho Karakuchi is by far the most full bodied, broad and robust of the kagatobi sakes currently available in the US. Again, no punches get pulled with this sake – you wanted Super Dry Yamahai – you got it. An excellent example of the classification without being rough or insensitive. If you don’t think you like dry sake, or if you think dry is your only choice, give this selection a try and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. I think this sake would also take kindly to a gentle warming in the cold months.
I get the sense that the Kagatobi Brewers are exacting practitioners of their art. They seem to be aiming for purebred examples of each sake classification they produce, and by my estimation they succeed. For American consumers, this makes the Kagatobi portfolio an excellent line to study. And just as the people of Edo stood in admiration of the Kaga Firefighters of yore, you gotta give this brand it’s props! Oh, and a final fire safety tip for everyone: Always we aware of your nearest emergency exit… and be sure to grab your Kagatobi on the way out.