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We are very impressed with Hirata's "Red Heron" label. We reviewed their Shiboritate a few days ago, and the regular Tokubetsu Junmai is of the same calibre! Multi-layered, well-rounded, deep, and of rich character, it boasts a fruity nose of apples and pears with alcoholic overtones. Quite tangy in its approach, it turns to a lovely tender sweetness mid-palate, only to transition to a sour finish with marked notes of stimulating bitterness. This is a very complex and refined sake!

Hirata Hiro Tokubetsu Junmai
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Pale Yellow
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Very dry with a solid alcoholic flavour and herbal notes, bitter finish. Passable table sake.

Okuhida BK Tanrei Junmai Ginjō Okuhida BK Tanrei Junmai Ginjō
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Gold
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This is an aged sake with a golden, almost amber-like hue crafted according to the kimoto method. This traditional technique was developed around 1700 and was the most orthodox way to brew sake. Cultivating yeast in a small tank before fermentation in a larger tank is called moto or shubo. The kimoto process takes three times longer than usual, resulting in excellent yeast. Rikishi Junmai Ginjo is made of a rice variety grown in Saitama, Sake Musashi. It is matured for up to two years. It has an intensive nose of dried fruits and herbs, a thick, creamy texture with bitter notes, and a flavour reminiscent of dried fruits and molasses. Indeed not everyone's (sake) taste, but the contrast of spiciness and mellowness is exceptional.

Rikishi Junmai Ginjo Kimotojikomi
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Pale Yellow
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Sometimes, it's only fair to revisit the odd sake and set things straight. While we uphold our first review of Endo's Betsuatsura, we were pleasantly surprised when we tried it this time: while definitely mild and light-bodied, we did not find it as thin as the first time. It has a subtle but elegant taste and makes for a fabulous food sake.

endo-keiryu-junmai-daiginjo-betsuatsura.jpg
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Pale Yellow
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Fruity nose, floral and fruity flavour with a good balance of sweetness, spiciness and acidity. Well-rounded, with a spicy and alcoholic finish. We are growing fond of Hidahomare. :)

Yancha Hidahomare Junmai Ginjo
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Pale Yellow
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Clear
Clear, with a straw-coloured appearance and a slightly high viscosity. Fruity nose (melon, pear, banana) with herbal notes. Herbal flavours with hints of mint, nutmeg, and spices. Mild on the palate with moderate sweetness spreading; medium body. Very elegant and well-balanced, with a soft finish.

Hatsumidori Junmai Ginjō Muroka Namagenshu
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Pale Yellow
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Clear
Intense nose of dried fruits and turpentine. A classic Niigata tanrei, mild and gentle with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness. Long finish with a sour tingle.

Ishimoto Koshi no Kanbai Junmai Ginjo Amane
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Pale Yellow
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Clear
Fruity nose of figs with hints of dried fruits and caramel. Rich, earthy, highly viscous, moderate sweetness mid-palate with a refreshing finish of lingering citric acidity.

Chikumanishiki Daiginjo Genshu
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Pale Yellow
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This is not Hananomai's "proprietary" Junmai Daiginjo but produced for Ucoop, a cooperative operating in Kanagawa, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka. It is made with Yamadanishiki rice grown in Shizuoka. The Ucoop brand has a fruity nose of grapes and strawberries and a scent reminiscent of white wine. A sweet and fruity approach that melts away into elegant sourness mid-palate and a lingering finish with an intensely bitter and peppery tingle—a veritable rollercoaster of flavours but consistently mild and never obtrusive. Quite passable.

Hananomai Junmai Daiginjo
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Pale Yellow
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Clear
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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Pale Yellow
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Clear
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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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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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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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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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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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 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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Clear
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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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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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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