Prestige Sake Tasting: Spring Awakening

otokoyama.jpgI was thrilled to recently get a close up look, and taste, of the latest offerings of Prestige Sake Imports. There was another rich array of selections from some of the best Prestige has to offer. Three breweries in particular were featured: Kaika, Otokoyama and Gokyo.

My first stop of the day was to visit with Mr. Hiroyuki Yamazaki representing Hokkaido’s Otokoyama Brewery. Otokoyama Tokubetsu Junmai has to be one of the most well known and best selling sakes in the U.S. You can really taste that this is a strong, very DRY Junmai with a hint of fruity-something melon-something. It stands up for itself. I enjoyed it. It is a good sake to have around for those informal times when something good and strong fits the bill.

Otokoyama Yukishibare Tokubetsu Junmai Nama was also presenting a spring release nama. I found it to be an interesting nama that is a touch on the dry side, but otherwise quite balanced. I find this sake tends to be out-gunned in the big-bold-flavor department by other Namas out there, especially the muroka genshus of the world, but Otokoyama always deserves a look-see.

shimada_san.jpgNext, I enjoyed visiting with Mr. Yoshinori Shimada, Executive Director of Daiichi Sake Brewery, makers of Kaika brand sake. First I tried their Kaika Shiboritate Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu. (phew!) Juicy, Juicy Juicy! this nama is, well, Juicy… full of viscosity on the palate, the sweetness comes on strong and luscious. Full power muroka nama genshu – if that tickles your fancy.

Next I tried a really special treat: Kaika Tobindori Daiginjo Shizuku Genshu. This is a special, and quite expensive sake that comes in a striking package… a mini sake storage bottle in a fantastic blue color. In this case, the packaging measures up to the contents. This sake has light fruit salad on the palate with an elegant complexity throughout. The primary thing I noticed when tasting was how SMOOTH this puppy is. An elegant bottle for an elegant sake. Drink up!

gokyo_bridge.jpgMy final visit at the tasting was to visit with Mr. Hideki Fujioka of Sakai Brewery, the makers of Gokyo (“5 bridges”) brand sake. This sake is from Yamaguchi prefecture, and I was luck enough to visit this area of Japan on my last trip there. The actual Gokyo bridge is perhaps the most famous bridge in all of Japan… It’s gorgeous. Mr. Sakurai of Yamaguchi’s dassai was kind enought to take me there.

gokyo_arabashiri.jpgMy first taste of Gokyo sake was their spring release draft sake known as Gokyo Arabashiri Junmai Nama Genshu. Full cask strength and full of fruity flavors, this is a nama to sit up and take notice of. You’ll GO back to this GO-kyo again and again. Last but not least, I tried the Gokyo Junami. I found this to be a no nonsense, no frills and full bodied junmai. It’s more on the dry side and with a touch of creamed rice on the palate.

Prestige brings in some good sakes! please check out any sakes from these brewer’s if you get a chance, but be sure to never pass up a chance to sample the draft nama sakes that are only around in the beginning of the year. I can guarantee you’ll have a spring awakening all your own!