New York City is crowded, loud, humid and dirty. Why on earth would anyone want to live here? For me, the answer is easy. Where else in the U.S. can I get such easy access to top notch sake tastings?! A recent event I went to was simply fantastic and reminded me why I do what I do! Not surprisingly, Sakagura and Joto Sake Importers were involved!

brewers.JPGThe evening was a fantastic exploration of the sakes from two sake brands: Wataribune from Ibaraki Prefecture and Kasumi Tsuru from Hyogo Prefecture.

The evening started with Joto Sake’s President, Henry Sidel Introducing Mr. Yoshio Fukumoto, president of Kasumi Tsuru Brewery. Fukumoto-san introduced Each of his sakes.

First we enjoyed our “welcome sake” from Hyogo, namely the Kasumi Tsuru Shiboritate Nama Genshu Honjozo. This sake is a favorite of mine mostly because of it’s full throttle nature. Nama Genshu by nature is flavor-forward and the Kasumi Tsuru is no exception! If you want to try something with a real charge, or make a big impression – give this sake a try.

fukumoto.JPGNext we moved on to the core of the Kasumi Tsuru line. These sakes make up the type of sake this brewery is known for: Flavorful, smoky and full of texture. The wonderful Kasumi Tsuru Yamahai Ginjo is a great example of this. Wondrefully layered yet solid, this brew is a delight for folks who like more complex flavors to their sakes. I also fully enjoyed the Kasumi Tsuru Shiboritate Yamahai Junmai. The Yamahai production method comes across loud and clear with this sake. You’ll enjoy the earthy body and complex smoky flavors with each sip!

Also, I really enjoyed the Kasumi Tsuru Extra Dry Junmai. For folks who like a real dry twinge to their nihonshu, this extra dry doesn’t disappoint. It’s dry without losing it’s ability to stand on it’s own. The Kasumi Tsuru brand offers a wonderful “Suite” of sakes that are all unique but harmonize wonderfully!

yamauchi.JPGNext, Henry introduced Mr. Takaaki Yamauchi, President of Huchu Homare sake brewery, makers of the Wataribune and Taiheikai Brands of sake. The Big Story with Yamauchi-san’s sake is of course his efforts to revitalize the WatariBune strain of sake rice. Yamauchi-san personally oversaw the restoration of this lost rice strain and uses it in all of his “wataribune” brand sakes.

After a kick off with a fantastic unpasteurized sake, “Wataribune Shiboritate Nama Ginjo“, I tasted one of the fantastic treats of the evening – namely the Wataribune Junmai Daiginjo Nama. This is one of those mega rare junmai daiginjo nama sakes. Wonderfully delicate nama fruits on the palate with a mild viscosity that made it very elegant and easy to drink. Next, for a quick comparison, I got to taste the Pasteurized version of the same sake, the Wataribune Junmai Daiginjo. This sake is a rich and fruity daiginjo. Look for peach and honeydew on the palate and a nice long finish that stays with you sip for sip. fantastic!

tennyo_toiki_angel.jpgWe moved on next to the fantastic Watribune Junami Ginjo 55 and in rapid succession to the Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai. This sake is named “Taiehikai” which means Pacific Ocean. This ties into Ibaraki’s location on the pacific ocean side of Japan’s main island. Next was “Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori“. This sake was another favorite of the evening. I found it layered and exhibiting a wonderful texture. Yamauchi-san was a fantastic representative of his brand and an enthusiastic ambassador for Ibaraki.

A final treat of the evening was a “special sake” brought from Kasumi Tsuru called “tennyo no Toiki” (roughly translated as “Angel’s breath”… correct me if I’m wrong!) This sake was special indeed, but quite the hammer at the end of such a vast sake tasting. This sake is very, very special and was clocked in at an astounding 25% alcohol. This was achieved through a method of freezing the sake and siphoning off the alcohol from the frozen sake, thereby concentrating the alcohol and flavor. it was super rich, delicious and very strong. As close to shochu as you can get without crossing the line… and much more delicious in my opinion!

The food at Sakagura was top notch, too! There was a food pairing for each and every course! Delicious to say the least… I think the soft shell crab karaage was my favorite. what doesn’t that pair well with?

This evening did indeed prove to me why I love New York so much! I love it because so many of the fantastic and varied flavors of Japanese sake come to me! If that isn’t proof of Angel’s Breath – I don’t know what is!

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