October 1 is International Sake Day a.k.a. “Sake No Hi”. Even I will admit Sake Day is not yet as well known as other Hallmark-type holidays such as Valentines Day or Groundhog Day… but I have a dream, people! One day, Sake No Hi will rank up there with the other holidays of note or, at the very least, be more popular that Arbor Day. Wouldn’t it be great if Sake Day packed every sake bar in town just like St. Patrick’s Day packs the Irish pubs with green beer drinkers on March 17th?
Well, until that day arrives, I have the Mutual Trading Japanese Food and Restaurant show to fall back on. This show is a fantastic event open to the trade that showcases japanese food, restaurant supplies and first and foremost (in my mind) sake. Mutual Trading is a big company and they import some top drawer brands. There were about 15 booths to explore and here are some of the highlights.
My first stop was at the Tamanohikari booth. There I met Mr. Ujita, Tamanohikari President and Mr. Mabuchi, Export General Manager. I’ve had tamanohikari on many occasions and I really enjoy their well regarded daigino. However, something else at their booth caught my attention. It was a sake soft pack – not unlike the juicy-juice pack your mom packed in your school lunch. I’ve never seen anything quite like it up close and in person. Not only would this be great on picnics or in places where glass bottles are not permitted, this pack comes with instructions on making “sake slushies”. According to the directions, just pop this puppy in the freezer for a few hours, pour out and enjoy!
Continuing on the unique packaging theme, my next stop was the Kikusui booth. This is another well regarded brand and they offer one of the best known sakes in a can this side of the pacific. Kikusui in a can is strong stuff – a genshu. But in my opinion, you can’t beat the fun of popping open that can… and truth be told, it really does keep the contents totally shielded from one of sakes big enemies, Light! They also had a unique aged sake or Koshu, also offered in can. In addition, they were offering samples of Kikusui Junmai Ginjo which is a terrific sake with a milder, yet engaging flavor profile.
My next stop was at the Asamai Brewery booth, makers of Amanoto, another well respected brand over here. I met Mr. Kakizaki, President of Asamai Brewery and he enthusiastically introduced me to the latest and greatest Amanoto had to offer. I sampled their terrific Honjozo (seimaibuai: 60%, SMV: +4, Alc: 15.5% ). It was bold with lots of backbone and a pleasant touch of rice in the nose. I was also lucky enough to taste a the terrific Amanoto Daiginjo (Seimaibuai: 38%, SMV: +2, ALC: 16.5%). This sake went above and beyond and really seemed to melt in your mouth. Check them out if you get the chance.
The Mutual Trading Sake day event also had me tasting tremendous sake from other brewers, too. I had Dassai, Nanbubijin, Muromachi and Born to name a few. Tasting these superior sakes had me convinced once and for all – Hallmark had better make room on their shelves for those “Happy Sake Day” greeting cards.