Shichiken Junmai Ginjo is a sake already well known for it’s ability to blossom when warmed and tonight was no exception. When warmed, this sake takes on an added richness with a warming gentle finish. I picked up on enjoyable woody notes on the palate this go round and that just added to the cozy feeling this sake gives me. Chilled, this sake is also great. It comes off as less rich and less alcohol forward while retaining it’s balance. Both warm and cold were delicious. If you want to learn more about Shichiken, you can read my interview with Tsushima Kitahara, the 13th generation maker of this sake.For me, however, the real surprise of the evening came with my tasting of Naraman Bin Hiire Junmai Muroka. When warmed, Naraman was one smoooooth operator! Stunningly smooth in my opinion. It went down like silk and warmed me up in a way that felt like wrapping myself in a cashmere throw! And disspite having a slightly higher alcohol percentage at 16,5%, the alcohol notes didn’t trample the flavor when warmed. In addition, the nose was also remarkable… gentle and evocative of mild floral essences… yes, in a heated sake! Naraman is a “muroka” or non-charcoal filtered sake. This gives the chilled version of this same sake an added rich dimension and a wonderful balance between sweet and acidity.
My takeaway from the whole experience tonight is that I will try to drink more warmed sake! Sure, it’s a little more work to prepare, but the rewards can be rich. It gets such a bad wrap sometimes, but winter is here to teach us what a joy and visceral pleasure warmed sake can be on a cold, cold night.