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Japan 2008 Sake Summit, Act II: Kumpai

kumpai.jpgAfter a lovely morning sake tasting and tour at Oomuraya Brewery, the intrepid Shizuoka tour guide extraordinaire, Robert-Gilles led Melinda, Etsuko and myself onward to another Shizuoka sake maker.

Kumpai Brewery is a small sake brewery with a big heart. It’s located in Shizuoka City and we got there by cab from the Shizuoka train station. This tiny operation is run by a father and son team: Senji and Shigetoshi Ichikawa.

ichikawa.jpgThe entire camera-wielding sake blogger summit crew descended on Kumpai Shuzo with a thousand questions and snapping a thousand pictures. Despite this mini invasion, Ichikawa-san Sr. and Jr. were enthusiastic and incredibly welcoming.

After a detailed tour of the brewery facility, we were invited to taste! We had a wonderful sake that Melinda and Etsuko promptly ordered for themselves! This particular sake was the Kumpai Momiji Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi. The Ichikawas served this lyrical fall nama with the perfect autumn pairing, momiji.jpgnamely Ginan or roasted ginko nuts. Ginko nuts never held that much appeal to my American palate, but I really turned a corner when eating them with this lovely Hiyaoroshi. I’m now a believer so bring it, Ginko!

Momiji Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi is a sake that tastes hand crafted, soft and luscious. And after having the privilege of seeing the brewery, I understand just how hand crafted it really is. Indeed, even the bottle labels are produced Shigetoshi-san on his computer! This dedication to making fantastic sake even on a small scale is really impressive.

A Special thanks to Robert Gilles for arranging this visit to Kumpai. I was so happy to be able to see a smaller brewery making fantastic stuff and I know I would never have the chance to taste this in the States. A great opportunity! It also doesn’t hurt that Robert-Gilles gifted me a Kumpai One cup! I brought this back to the U.S. and can’t bring myself to drink it because it is so special and rare. RG- thanks a million and I’ll let you know when I crack open that Kumpai One Cup!

To see more about Kumpai don’t miss Melinda’s Kumpai Post, and of course Robert-Gilles’ Shizuoka Sake blog is a treasure trove. So, what’s left to say? well, let’s hear a big KANPAI for Kumpai! (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)