Our friend Toshi at Sake Hana was host to another Late Night tasting devoted this time to the fantastic Dassai brand sakes from Asahi Brewery in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The July 20th tasting was indeed late – starting at 11pm, but in the name of sake research, I persevered.
An entire tasting devoted to one brand of sake? Dassai carries it off as an elegant study in perfection. You can just tell from the taste that Dassai is the real deal and they are focued on quality and refinement.
Mr. Sakurai and his colleague Mr Kinoshita from Dassai brought over some tremendous sakes from Asahi Brewery that are not currently available in the US.
Here is a quick rundown of what was served:
- Dassai 23
- Dassai 39 (not available in US)
- Dassai 39 Sparkling Nigori (not available in US)
- Dassai 48 (not available in US)
- Dassai 50
- Dassai 50 Nigori
In addition to the sakes, this tasting promised two other spectaular treats. There would be appetizers served that were made with Dassai kasu (kasu refers to the sake lees – the left over bits of rice solids after brewing and pressing) AND, most exciting of all, a serving of Yamadanishiki 23% steamed sake rice! I mean – how often do you get to taste what some consider the finest sake rice around milled down to an astonishing 23% of it’s original size? Unless you happen to live in a sake brewery, I bet not very often.
KC was helping pour and the bar. Always nice to see a friendly face behind the bar! So on I went to start tasting!
I started with the crown jewel of the dassai family – the stellar Dassai 23 (Junmai Daiginjo, Seimaibuai 23%, SMV +3, Acidity 1.3). This is a super, duper deluxe junmai daiginjo made with sake rice milled down to 23% of it’s original size before brewing. The Dassai 23 is expensive and I think rightfully so, given the care and attention it’s made with. And the taste? It’s super smooth and one of the most elegant sakes out there. This is one of those brews that will not hit you over the head with a punch of flavor – it’s all about the subtlety, complexity and refinement. Dassai 23 is meant to be savored and sipped.
I then moved on to taste again my favorite Dassai sake! The amazing Dassai 39! (Junmai Daiginjo, Seimaibuai 39%, SMV +3, Acidity 1.3) This is a fantastic sake and I always, always savor it when I get a chance to drink it. Dassai 39 is not available in the US at this time. I find this sake so appealing because it has much of the refined, elegant tones of the Dassai 23 and a touch of the backbone of the Dassai 50. in short, it’s the best of both worlds! The taste is sublime. If you have a chance to go to a dassai tasting or go to Japan, I recommend this sake as a “must try”.
Dassai 39 Sparkling Nigori (Junmai Daiginjo, Seimaibuai 39%, SMV +3, Acidity 1.3) is like the Dassai 39 dressed up for a night on the town with all the bells and whistles. As the handout from Sake Hana described it: “A delicate bubble takes you to a sake world”. I couldn’t agree more!
Finally, I enjoyed the sample fo Yamadanishiki Rice ground to 23% of it’s original size. Since this rice was mostly the pure starch, it was indeed on the sweeter side. It was sticky and quite soft on the palate. Such a unique opportunity!
By the time the tasting ended – around 1 am! – I was feeling good and delighted to have has such good sake. As I walked home down the quiet streets of the upper east side, I thought about all the work and care that went into the sakes I had just enjoyed.
I was more sure than ever that sake will be an ever larger part of the beverage landscape here in the U.S in months and years to come. Kanpai to that!