Japan Society 2008 Sake Tasting

gauntner_san.jpgThe Japan Society yearly tasting event is a real hum-dinger and one of the true not-to-be-missed events of the sake social calendar in NYC. This year was extra fun as Sake Sensei and all around great guy John Gauntner was going to lecture on the 100 year anniversary of the Japan National Sake Appraisal.

John’s lecture was really fantastic and I always learn something new anytime I get to hear him speak on the subject of sake. One interesting fact I came away with: did you know that the Japanese government employees professional sake tasters? it’s a real job… for reals! And what to the government tasters do during those times of the year when there are no tastings? well, they practice of course!

Tsushima_san.jpgAfter John’s lecture, and a fun kagami biraki, we were all unleashed onto the tasting floor and boy, oh boy was it crowded. Be careful not to get in between a determined New Yorker and their free sake sample. You may lose a finger or worse.

After the crowds died down a bit, I was able to get my bearings and took at look at the breweries represented at this tasting. There were some old friends I knew well and some new breweries I had yet to meet. Very exciting!

We we lucky to have:

  • Takasago Sake Brewing Co – Hokkaido
  • Nanbubijin Inc – Iwate
  • Akita Seishu Co – Akita
  • Kaetsu Sake Brewing Co – Niigata
  • Okunomatsu Sake Brewing Co – Fukushima
  • Tentaka Sake Brewing Co – Tochigi
  • Sudo-Honke, Inc – Ibaraki
  • Daimon Sake Brewing Co – Osaka
  • Marumoto Sake Brewing Co – Okayama
  • Imada Sake Brewing Co – Hiroshima
  • Rihaku Skae Brewing Co – Shimane
  • Asahi Sake Brewign Co – Yamaguchi
  • Tenzan Sake Brewing Co – Saga

Ito_san.jpgPhew! There was a lot to explore!

I stopped by the Okunomatsu Table and met Takeshi Tsushima-san who is General Manager for the Brewery. I was happy to taste their delicious Okunomatsu Ginjo and a very special opportunity to taste their Sparkling Junmai Daiginjo!! This is the Sparkling sake used to shower winning formula one racers. I’ve been wanting to try this brew and this was my chance! It was an interesting mix of bubbly and complexity. cool!

I also visited with Akiko Ito-san from Akita Seishu Brewery. They make the world famous super dry Kariho Namahage Yamahai Junmai. Ito-san also introduced me to Kariho Rokushu Junmai Ginjo which was a more refined and softer older brother to Namahage. ok, at this point I was getting really happy!

I visited with many other brewers and sake community friends and generally had a great time. A final note about this particular tasting was that several brewers brought their “competition sake” from japan to give us a sneak peek. Competition sake is it’s own thing and I didn’t get to try a lot of it on this night, but the few I did try were special and borderline overwhelming and every bit as John says… “daiginjo on steroids” – best part? it’s legal.