Prestige Sake Association Importers had another wonderful tasting event to introduce sakes in New York. This time, the focus was on an array of summer nama sake along with two outstanding breweries in the Prestige portfolio: Umenishiki and Tsukasabotan.
I started tasting with the Tsukasabotan sakes and had the pleasure of meeting Tsukasabotan Brewery President Mr. Takemura, who was personally introducing his sake. I started with the glorious Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku Tokubetsu Junmai. This sake is one I have poured for sake fans myself at my first Sake Samurai Tasting at Sakaya. Senchu Hassaku did not disappoint. I like to describe this sake as having an overall dry presence but with a depth and complexity you don’t usually find in dry junmai sake. And this sake has the coolest label you’ll see. safety orange always catches my eye.
Takemura-san also introduced me to some other fantastic sake. I tried the Tsukasabotan Fu-in Junmai Ginjo with great interest. Again here the packaging was unique! Fu-in exhibited a wonderfully balanced acidity and light fruits across the palate. It really lives up to it’s fancy pants packaging. Get out there and try it if you can find it.
I also tasted the mesmerizing Tsukasabotan Junmai Daiginjo sake, milled to an amazing 40% as well as the Tsukasabotan Junmai, which I found to be dry and structured, which I see pairing well with heartier foods. This Junmai also comes across with a hint of savory Umami, too.
Next I tried the sake of Umenishikicoming from Ehime Prefecture and was introduced to Brewery President Mr. Koichiro. He poured me his very best sake first and I found myself swept away by Umenishiki Junmai Daiginjo. I felt this sake was quite complex with perhaps a touch higher acidity you may find in other daiginjos. simply delicious… look for the red box with the gold kanji!
I also sampled two other Umenishiki standouts, the very dry Umenishiki Oh Kara Junmai as well as the well balanced but higher-in-alcohol Umenishiki Hitosuji Junmai Ginjo Genshu. I don’t know many sakes from Ehime, so this has to be my very favorite!
Last but not least I indulged in one of my favorite activities: savoring cold nama sake on a hot summer day. Prestige didn’t disappoint! I tried a number of fantastic namas including a rare crown jewel of the nama world… namely the Umenishiki Junmai Daiginjo Nama. I love this sake! an ultra rare nama (unpasteurized) junmai daiginjo, the palate on this sake is alive with tropical fruits and melon. with the easy to enjoy smooth countenance you would expect from a ultra premium sake.
I also quiet enjoyed the easy to drink Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nama as well as Otokoyama Sasaori Tokubetsu Junmai Nama, an intriguing, delightful sake. Quite fruity and more of a sweetness on the palate than an SMV +5 would lead you to believe. A whisper of nigori adds a fantastic subtle texture to this nama.
After I sampled just about everything, I glanced at my watch and saw I was due at my Japanese Language class. So I said my goodbyes and headed out into the summer afternoon to meet my tutor. I think the Tsukasa-botan, Umenishiki and summer nama sakes washing across my brain made me more fluent in Japanese than ever! Hey, I’d chose them over flashcards anytime.