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For the December 2020 Sake Box, we had fun pairing non-Japanese foods with sake from very traditional breweries. How traditional, you ask? The youngest is the maker of Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” with 140 years in business to the oldest being Otokoyama, around 331 years old! Would you have guessed sake made from such traditional breweries go well with fried chicken, or chili lime chips? We dare you to try. This selection also includes Born “Junsui” from a brewery who makes sake served at the Imperial Court, the sustainability-focused Yaemon “Tsukiakari,” and Zuiyo “Hojun Junmai,” made at the first brewery in Kumamoto Prefecture making the clear sake we enjoy today.
“Otokoyama” literally translates to “Man Mountain.” The name alludes to the drinking parties some samurais had before war. This sake packs a dry, full-bodied taste with hints of dark plum or black cherry. It’s become synonymous with good sake worldwide due to its perfect flavor for pairing with Japanese sushi and sashimi. Expect sweetness and velvety texture you’ll want to share with your friends.
This savory sake is inspired by local legends of Niigata’s annual fox-bride festival. Local lore tells of mysterious lights that appeared on nearby Mt. Kirin in the distant past, which are claimed to be the lanterns carried in the fox-bride procession. With a 50% polishing rate, this sake could technically qualify as a “daiginjo,” but the savory notes and food pairing versatility identify more with the style expected from “ginjo.”
Pours with a pale, moonlight hue from which it gets its name. The soft aroma hints malted rice, and is followed by a sweetness that plays out across your palate like moonbeams playing across calm waters. The sweetness and acidity play off each other in perfect harmony to create Tsukiakari’s supreme fl avor. Serve as an aperitif or pair with richly-fl avored fare, but remember to raise a glass to honor the moon.
This sake is named after a poetry compilation from the 13th century by Ono no Komachi. Like the poetry, this sake is deep and rich. The sake’s complexity matches the intricacies the poetess put into her writing. Sakekomachi rice produces a delicate blend of savory and acidic. Give a nod to Ono no Komachi, depicted on the bottle, every time you have a glass.
Great gifts come in small packages, and this sake is no different! Crafted exclusively for small bottles, Born “Junsui” embodies the absolutely pure spirit of sake; vivid, uplifting, pristine. The brewer’s meticulous attention to both ingredients and brewing method culminate in a clear, umami-rich flavor that will leave a lasting impression on your palate and your soul. Give yourself the blessing you deserve by experiencing Born “Junsui.”
This rich junmai with layered, nutty depth in flavor has won many hot sake competitions in Japan, but can be enjoyed over ice as well. We dare you to try it with rich sauces and slow-cooked meat as this region of Japan is known for thicker, sweeter soy sauce and rich meat. The bold structure and solid dry finish of this sake will add depth to your umami-laden dish.
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