Landmark Sake Tasting GuideIt’s March 17th, that one day a year when everyone is Irish, large crowds search the city for green beer, and even Italian restaurants serve corned beef and cabbage. I’m as genuine 3th generation Irish-American as they come, but I found myself passing by the corned beef and making a bee-line to my number 1 sake supplier Landmark Wine and Sake, as they were planning a civilized sake tasting scheduled for tonight. Luckily I live only a few blocks away, so it’s easy for me to get to Landmark while avoiding the roving crowds of green beer enthusiasts wearing green plastic bowlers on their heads.

When I got got to the tasting, there was a small crowd already assembled in the back. In addition to the friendly staff , there were two suited japanese guys whom I’m guessing were the sake distributor comany reps. There were some friends from the Sake Meetup group. And our friend Satsko also made a guest appearance! Everyone was in a good mood and ready for some tasting!

Five sakes were being featured:

  • Taru Taru Junmai, brewed by Kitoaka Honten, Nara Prefecture, ALC 14.7%, SMV +2
  • Kirakucho Junmai, brewed by Kita Shuzo, Shiga Prefecture, ALC 14.8%, SMV +3
  • Mizu No Shirabe Ginjo, Brewed by Yamamoto Honke, Kyoto Prefecture ALC 14.5%, SMV +5
  • TomoJu Junmai Ginjo, Brewed by Aiyu Shuzo, Ibaraki Prefecture, ALC 15.5%, SMV +2
  • Chiyomusubi Daiginjo, Brewed by Chiyomusubi Shuzo, Tottori Prefecture, ALC 17.5%, SMV +5

Landmark Sake Window displayI ended up buying the Taru, Kirakucho and Mizuno Shirabe. Me? buy a Taru?! I know, I know… I can already hear the howls of disbelief, and I can barely believe it myself, based on the derisive review I gave to a low grade taru last December. However, as the nice suited Japanese man from the Sake distributor explained to me, only cheap, cheap Taru sake has the overpowering, acrid taste of cedar. The bad stuff is something akin to drinking a cedar chip smoothie. The Taru Taru from Kitoaka Honten, however, was indeed a bit more expensive, but the cedar flavor here was a mild and pleasant note in a full, luscious orchestration, not an amatuer tuba player drowning out the choir. Time to get to know Taru a little better…

The Kirakucho Junmai was my favorite of the sakes featured. This is an excellent sake to present to someone as their first foray into the Junmai oeuvre. it’s crystal clear and light in taste – you could say the Evian of Junmais. Well, by that I mean “watery” in the very best sense of the word –
crisp, clean, light, quenching and refreshing.

Landmark TastingThe third sake I bought was Mizu No Shirabe Ginjo. This was good and I feel it deserved closer inspection, so I’ll report more when it comes time to sample this bottle.

I didn’t buy the TomoJu Junmai Ginjo and the Chiyomusubi Daiginjo featured in this tasting. These were both a little too strong-handed and complex for my taste tonight, so I decided to concentrate on the lighter fare offered.

These tastings at Landmark are a great opportunity to try new things and buy some new sakes at a discount. Stop by and ask to be put on their mailing list. You’ll get an email about all the tastings in advance or keep an eye on the NYC Sake Meetup event board – tastings are usually posted there in advance. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have all these sake-tasting opportunities here in NYC. Luck of the Irish, I guess. cheers!

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