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Our Friends Nicole and Michael at Kyotofu were kind enough to invite me to a special tasting at their place. The well regarded sake brand Masuizumi of Toyama prefecture was presenting some of their flagship sakes as well as something new to the US market.

First off Mr Makoto Hosota introduced each of the sakes being sampled. Mr Hosota is the Koji Master at Masuizumi. Koji making is such an important step in the sake brewing process, some breweries have a guy on staff who only does Koji production. I have never met a Koji master before, so it was pretty exciting.

Here is a selection of what Hosota-san was presenting:

omachi.jpg*Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo (ALC 16.6%, Seimaibuai 50%) This sake is perhaps the most well known of the Masuizumi selections. It’s really seems like almost a textbook example of what one might usually expect in a stand out Junmai Daiginjo. It’s really a classic brew and fantastically easy to drink.

*Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo Omachi (ALC 16.5%, Seimaibuai 50%) Omachi in the name stands for the type of sake rice used to make this gem. Omachi sake rice is a great uncle to most strains of sake rice used today such as yamada nishiki. It’s use can have different effects on the end product, but here, the use of Omachi rice makes this sake sing! It’s full and rich in flavor… perhaps a bit more assertive than your average junmai daiginjo. Despite the full flavor, this sake is still smooth as silk. Tasting the standard Junmai Daiginjo and the Junmai Daiginjo Omachi side by side was a treat.

french_oak.jpg*Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo Special (ALC 16.5%, Seimaibuai 50%) Now for something completely different. Masuizumi has really taken sake to a new place with this selection. The sake in this case has been aged in, get this people… French Oak Wine Barrels! Now, it seems fairly clear that the brewers were going for a wine inspired beverage. Exhibit A: the bottle and label for this sake look exactly like a French wine bottle! How does it taste? well, the oak logically gives strong and unmistakable woody-oak notes similar in feeling to cedar-infused taru sake. I gotta give Masuizumi props for trying this. They are on a new frontier!

The afternoon at Kyotofu was just delightful and I had so much fun talking to other sake fans and I really enjoyed digging in to the flavors of these unique sakes! And as far as aging sake in French Oak, I think that definitely qualifies as “thinking outside the masu”.

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