John Gauntner introduces Sake Brewers at the Japan Society

John Gauntner introduces Sake Brewers at the Japan Society

It’s becoming an delicious yearly ritual in my sake tasting routine: The annual Japan Society Sake Tasting and Lecture. Just as in 2007 and 2008, I was eagerly awaiting this year’s tasting.

Koji, Koji Koji
John Gaunter was again the special guest speaker and his lecture was entitled: “Without Koji, There is No Sake”. Koji is the true mystery ingredient in sake. Often called the “mold that makes the magic”, the title of the lecture couldn’t be more true. John focused on many of the interesting aspects of how koji works, how brewers work with it and also, descriptions of the unique rooms used at breweries to propagate koji mold.

This year, we had the following Breweries represented:

  • Tenzan Sake Brewing Co. (Saga)
  • Asahi Sake Brewing Co. (Yamaguchi)
  • Rihaku Sake Brewing Co. (Shimane)
  • Imada Sake Brewing Co. (Hiroshima)
  • Marumoto Sake Brewing Co. (Okayama)
  • Sudo-Honke Inc. (Ibaraki)
  • Tentaka Sake Brewing Co. (Tochigi)
  • Okunomatsu Sake Brewing Co. (Fukushima)
  • Kaetsu Sake Brewing Ltd. (Niigata)
  • Tenju Sake Brewing Co., LTD (Akita)
  • Akita Seishu Sake Brewing Co., LTD. (Akita)
  • Nanbubijin, Inc. (Iwate)
  • Takasago Sake Brewing Co. (Hokkaido)

Miho Imada

Miho Imada

Meet The Brewers
The sakes from all the above Breweries were amazing! The news for me was some wonderful unique treats that I got to try.

One special treat was the delicious Fukucho Junmai Daiginjo “Hattansou” Muroka Genshu made by Miho Imada at the Imada Sake Brewery in Hiroshima Prefecture. This sake was unique in several ways. It was made using a lesser known sake rice “Hattansou” which I learned is a parent rice to the more well known Hattan-Nishiki rice. This leaves this sake with a wonderfully concentrated sense of flavor and aroma. I have high hopes to see this sake for sale in the US this year!

Also from Imada-san, don’t miss:
* Fukucho Junmai Ginjo “Moon on the Water”
* Fukucho Junmai Ginjo “Biho”

Dassai 23

Dassai 23

Mr. Sakurai was also on had from Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Dassai Brewery. He brought with him three of his wonderfully loved sakes for sale in the US:

* Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo
* Dassai 39 Junmai Daiginjo
* Dassai 50 Junmai Ginjo

However, A rare treat for me on this night was the chance to taste Sakurai-san’s Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 39 Sparkling Nigori! This is a beautiful light bubbly brew worth savoring. Not for sale in the US, but we can hope for the future!

So many sakes were tasted and enjoyed! This was another enjoyable year at the Japan Society. This year we learned that “without Koji, there is no Sake”. Can’t wait to see where in the sake world they take us next year!