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Japan 2008: Sake Club Okanaga

*Membership Has It’s Privileges“, or at least that is what Amex says. You know, I’ve gotten through life pretty well without being a member… and I don’t just mean Amex. I’m talking no Fraternity, no food co-op and I’ve never even owned a Member’s Only jacket! However, on my second day in Japan, the wonderful folks at Prestige Sake extended an invitation I was not about to miss: a private sake tasting at their Member’s Only sake club in Tokyo, Club Okanaga.

They arranged for Melinda and I to meet with Prestige Sake Sensei Mr. Mori and also Mr. Takatsu who helped me out with Japanese translation. I was thoroughly expecting a secret knock or special handshake to get entrance to the club, but Melinda and I were greeted at the door and brought to our table. After meeting our hosts we sat down for what would be, little did I know, a very significant sake tasting.

When all was said and done we tasted over 14 sakes on their own and with food pairings. It was quite a ride on the leading edge of sake with the emphasis on Kimoto, yamahai, Koshu and sparkling.

Just take a look at this list!

morisan.jpgOur first duty was to taste these sakes on their own. We all soon had a gaggle of sake filled wine glasses in front of us. I worked hard to keep all of the glasses straight, but was rewarded with a unique and wonderful experience… the ability to taste so many sakes side by side. It was a joy to learn from Mr. Mori and discuss sake and get his personal take on some of our selections.

Some of the sakes really stood out in my mind.

Hanahato.png1) Harushika Tokimeiki Sparking: Sparkling sake with full sweetness and high acidity. This will tickle your nose! A wonderful aperitif for your evening meal. This sake is also refreshingly low in alcohol.

2) Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai: This sake has light grapefruit on the nose and full complexity on the palate. Lactic acid come thru strong on this one. excellent with food and excellent for warming.

3) Hanahato Kijoshu: Smokey, rich and sherry-like, this aged sake is special. I serve this as a topping over vanilla ice cream or with chocolate. The brewing method of Kijoshu is very unique because pure rice sake is added at the final stage instead of water and aged in wood for eight years.

The Sakes were all interesting and unique and totally fun to taste. I have never had so much yamahai, kimoto or koshu in one sitting. My sincere thanks to everyone at Prestige for such a fun and educational evening. So, I guess I enjoyed being a member and belonging to the club… even if it was only for one night.