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Pouring the "Water of Desire" unleashes whirling impressions of a fruit basket: strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and grapefruit peel are just some of the hints we could gather. And some green and minerals, too. The flavour is as overwhelming as the aroma: berries, apples, honey, caramel, and all more reminiscent of white wine than sake. What stands out is its superb balance of elegant sweetness, ripe umami of fruits, and refreshing acidity. It's elegant but not pretentious. It's one of those bottles you simply cannot put back into the refrigerator. Without a doubt, one of our top three this year!

Kuheiji Eau du Désir 2021 Junmai Daiginjō
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Gold
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Don't be fooled by the old-fashioned and inconspicuous label: this is a first-class junmai ginjo: with a yellowish appearance and a pleasantly sweet nose of fruits (plums) and narazuke. The first sip unleashes fireworks of mellow sweetness that transform into a harmony of soft acidity and umami from the Yamadanishiki. Lingering spiciness. A very refreshing sake with a fruity mouthfeel.

Tenpōichi Junmai Ginjō (天寶一純米吟醸)
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Colourless
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Slightly cloudy
Natsu no Nigori Katafune is a sweet nigorizake and - as its name implies - brewed especially for summer. It is best consumed cold or on the rocks. Pasteurised once, it has an intense flavour and maintains a powerful umami—clean and refreshing aftertaste.
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Pale Yellow
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I couldn't find any info on the Nansuijikomi Junmai Ginjo; either this was a limited brew or a unique lot for a restaurant or a restaurant chain. One thing's for sure: it was, unmistakably, a Fukucho, bearing all the telltale features of Imada Miho's craftswomanship: effervescent fruitiness, light body, and an exquisite balance of dryness and ginjoka. Very mild, smooth, and without pretence: Imada's elegant "table sake".

Nansuijikomi
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Pale Yellow
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We found the Shun at our local OK Mart, where it is sold for less than 1,000 yen a bottle. It is not listed on Isonosawa's website. Given its low price and exposure, we were pretty surprised by its excellent quality! With a nose of dried fruits and gingerbread, it exudes robust alcoholic spiciness. Herbal on the palate, this junmai ginjo boasts a mild and refreshing acidity. Medium-bodied. Here's your proof that good things don't need to be pricey. :)

Isonosawa Shun Junmai Ginjo
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Pale Yellow
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Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic severely impacted sake breweries: many restaurants and izakaya were closed or restricted their work hours, and guests stayed away. Some breweries resorted to crowdfunding projects to sell their existing sake stocks or continue limited production. We found Akana Brewery's campaign on Campfire, stating they intended to support Shimane farmers producing the Koshihikari rice used for their junmai sake. We had never heard of a junmai daiginjo namagenshu and got curious. Last weekend, the 300ml bottle arrived in a cool box, and we did not waste any time degusting it.

Kinunomine Junmai Daiginjō Muroka Namagenshu

This is unfiltered, unpasteurised sake, so it should always be stored in a refrigerator and served chilled. It has a straw-coloured appearance and an elegant nose with floral and lactic notes. Contrary to my expectations, there were no traces of effervescence. Floral on the palate with notes of fungi, it is well-rounded, boasting a pleasant underlying sweetness and a mild and clean finish. This is an exquisite brew.

Kinunomine Junmai Daiginjō Muroka Namagenshu

We paired it with maguro don, but it should be perfect with any savoury dish. Strange enough, the Akana website does not reveal how to procure other Kinunomine products. We'll keep our eyes peeled for more sake delights from the snowy hills of Shimane.
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Pale Yellow
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A delightfully fruity nose of strawberries, apricots, and melon. Very clean, well-rounded taste with a pleasant mouthfeel that slowly develops acidity, mineral flavours, and a slight bitterness followed by a fruity sweetness and a peppery finish. Deep, complex, and mature, yet a pleasure to degust. Although it is a junmai ginjo, it can be enjoyed cold or lukewarm. It is a beautiful sake with a full-bodied flavour and soft acidity. Five stars from us!

Yukinobosha Hiden Yamahai Junmai Ginjo
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Pale Yellow
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This hiyaoroshi has a sharp nose of alcohol, fungi and marzipan. It is slightly dry and spicy, with a mild sweetness mid-palate and a refreshing, sour finish—a very light and gentle autumn brew.

Shotoku Hiyaoroshi
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Pale Yellow
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A jewel of a sake! This particular bottle was brewed in 2020 and was no. 31 out of 96 produced that year. It boasts a tender nose of turpentine and has a smooth and silky taste with a strong alcoholic touch and a perfect balance of dry crispiness and sweet fragrance. Clean and elegant finish.

The brewery entered the Tobindori in the Annual Japan Sake Awards (全国新酒鑑評会) competition but did not win.

Hanahato Tobindori Yamadanishiki Daiginjō Fukurotsuri (華鳩斗瓶取り山田錦大吟醸袋吊り) Hanahato Tobindori Yamadanishiki Daiginjō Fukurotsuri (華鳩斗瓶取り山田錦大吟醸袋吊り)
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Pale Yellow
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The Genkei is part of Fukucho's "Satake series", for which the brewery uses a cutting-edge rice miller that removes proteins and lipids while polishing the rice down to only 60 per cent, a procedure that would traditionally require a milling rate of 40 per cent. Therefore, the Satake milling allows the Hattansou rice to keep its natural flavour. The Genkei is full-bodied and refreshing. It has a fruity nose (pear, apple, pineapple) with a hint of gentle sweetness. It has a pleasant crispness and is slightly effervescent, like most Fukucho sake. Clean finish with a sour tingle.

Fukucho Hattanso Satake Series Genkei
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Pale Yellow
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Overall impression: light flavour and a sharp taste. A nose of fungi and koji, with hints of caramel and a tingle of alcohol. Very mild and subtle, with notes of fungi and a spicy finish.
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Koikawa uses Gohyakumangoku rice for the Beppin, characterised by a light and refreshing taste and great versatility as far as drinking temperatures are concerned. The Beppin has a fruity nose of green apples and pears with hints of koji. Boasting a light body with a strong presence of umami, it is well-rounded, mild, and pleasantly dry. Much smoother at room temperature.
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Fruity nose of apples with spicy, turpentine-like hints; clean and relatively dry with a fair share of acidity and a spicy finish. Very refreshing and clean finish with peppery notes.

Asahiyama Junmai Ginjō (朝日山 純米吟醸)


PS: this was our second attempt at Asahiyama's Junmai Ginjo. Amazingly, our second review is almost identical to the first one. :)
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Pale Yellow
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Kirin Homare has a nose of dried fruits (figs and apricots). The first impression is a little thin, but it boasts a pleasant aroma of nuts, dried fruits and hints of narazuke. Tangy with slight acidity, medium dry. Clean finish with a peppery tingle.

Kaetsu Homare Kirin Tokubetsu Junmai (麒麟 ほまれ麒麟 特別純米) Kaetsu Homare Kirin Tokubetsu Junmai (麒麟 ほまれ麒麟 特別純米)
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Gold
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This blend is unique: made of aged sake from 2019 provided by two breweries in the same town that had been fiercely competing since the days of the Edo period. The Yatsuo Blend was mixed at a 1:1 ratio and boasts a golden hue only found in mature sake. It is of a slightly oily and viscous texture; intensive flavour of dried fruits reminiscent of overripe figs and dried apricots, slightly tangy. The earthy taste is getting smoother at room temperature; herbal. Very interesting brew, a delight for those enjoying aged sake. I hope that both breweries will keep up their annual blending.

Yatsuo Blend 2019
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Other
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Dull
The Endo Keiryū domuroku series comprises four different types of doburoku, the Triple Domu being the top of the line. Flavour-wise, it is not much different from the basic Domuroku and the Junmai Domuroku, but its moromi is three times more condensed than the basic domuroku, resulting in a bubbly porridge-like, highly viscous texture. Endo is one of the few breweries specialising in doburoku, and they already have twenty years of experience under their belt, with over 2.6 million bottles sold. It is based on a recipe handed down in the brewery since the Edo period. The brewery recommends drinking domuroku as an aperitif or digestif.

Endo Keiryū Domuroku Triple Domu (渓流 どむろく 3倍どむ) Endo Keiryū Domuroku Triple Domu (渓流 どむろく 3倍どむ)



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Pale Yellow
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This Yuki-no-Bosha ("snow barn") is a modest hiyaoroshi, an elegant understatement, with a slightly sweet nose reminiscent of apples and strawberries. Its gentle texture and clean taste are refreshing and well-balanced, perfectly harmonising acidity and the wide range of ginjo flavours. The clear and light flavour and elegant acidity bring out the best of autumn—five stars from us.

Yuki-no-Bosha Hiyaoroshi

Yuki-no-Bosha Hiyaoroshi
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Suigei is one of the best-known sake breweries in Japan. Almost all izakaya carry the Suigei Tokubetsu Junmai. With its full-bodied flavour and crisp aftertaste, it is an ideal sake to enjoy with food. It has a delicious rice flavour with a crisp aftertaste, and although the aroma is subdued, it has a unique acidity and a crisp taste. This sake can be enjoyed in a wide range of temperatures, from chilled to warmed: at 10-15°C, it has a full-bodied flavour and fresh acidity and becomes more pleasant on the palate. At around 40-45°C, the overall flavour becomes smoother and fuller, and a lingering aftertaste can be enjoyed. The slightly acidic aftertaste goes well with dishes such as tempura and Chinese and Western food, making it an ideal in-meal drink.

This review is based on our three lucky encounters with the drunken whale (February 2019, June 2021, and October 2022).
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Pale Yellow
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Akiagari is brewed in early spring and stored during summer; around September, when the outside temperature and the temperature of the sake are about the same, the sake is released without further pasteurisation. Akiagari has a deep, matured aroma. Seasonal and limited in production, they are usually sold out in October. Sagaminada Akiagari is a blend of different sake and rice types. It has a fruity nose of apples, herbs, and alcohol. Very refreshing at first degustation. It boasts the characteristic Sagaminada aroma with slightly spicy notes of anise and a sour finish.

It was sold out by mid-October.

Kubota Sagaminada Akiagari Kubota Sagaminada Akiagari
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Pale Yellow
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We found the Yatsuo Blend project on Campfire, a Japanese crowdfunding website. We were intrigued by the story of two fiercely competing breweries that overcame their rivalry and joined forces to produce sake that blended their products from 2019 and 2022.

The 2022 blend has a herbal nose with intense notes of alcohol and a smooth, deep aroma with hints of fungi and marzipan. The sweet notes give way to a slight tanginess. Refreshing finish with lingering acidity. We served it chilled. With increasing temperature, it got milder, sweeter, and even smoother. The acidity had all but vanished. The breweries chose not to reveal the types of sake they blended; however, the result is exquisite. We cannot wait to taste the 2019 blend.

Yatsuo Blend 2022
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