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Morinokura: Geeky sake tasting

Company Name: Morinokura

Prefecture: Fukuoka

URL: http://www.morinokura.co.jp/(J)

morinokura mizokuchi-san

Mizokuchi-san from Morinokura, the guest for Takase-sensei’s February benkyokai at Mitsuya is a true sake geek. We not only enjoyed his sake, but totally geeked out by trying sake and shochu at different temperatures and with different types of cups.

When I checked Morinokura’s
website before, Morinokura appeared quite different from other kura. They seemed to be more of a shochu maker rather than a sake maker. Also, I was puzzled by the fact that they have many brand names for both shochu and sake: a grand total of eleven product lines.

Although Morinokura makes other kind of shochu, they started making kasu shochu to recycle sake kasu and use it as fertilizer for rice. Makes sense. Morinokura is selling salad dressing made of kasu, but I guess you cannot consume so much of it that way. So, Mizokuchi-san said that the majority of kasu still goes into making shochu, then back to the rice paddies.

The mystery around the number of product lines was solved when he said Morinokura bought the brand names of other kura who had closed up shop, but that they always kept the original names.

So, back to geekiness. At the monthly benkyokai, we have designated a kan person who goes in the kitchen and makes kan. At the last one, though, Mizokuchi-san made kan himself because he wanted everyone to try his sake at specific temperatures: 44℃
and 50℃. Another geeky moment was when he asked everyone to pour one kind of sake into two different types of cup, one with a small opening and one with a wide one and to then taste the difference. Surprisingly, it did make a big difference. The wide sake cup made it taste it well rounded. However, he warned everyone that the wide cup also brings out bad features and to be picky about which sake to drink with what kind of cup.

sake cup comparison

A highlight of the tasting was trying Morinokura’s sigunature hashira shochuHitachiyama Sanabori” made by this unique method from the early 20th century Meiji era. (It appears Sanabori is also pronounced as Sanaburi.) Rice bran is added to sake kasu in the distillation process as seen in the pictures. It smelled so grassy, to a point someone said it smells like hay or alfalfa. I am not sure if that’s a very appetizing description, but at least, I have to say it is accurate. I think this one is so unique in its taste and smell so it is a type of shochu that you really like or you really hate. Not being big on shochu, I was the latter. But, it was certainly interesting to try.

1. 大手門「荒走り」(あらばしり)純米吟醸生酒(Ootemon
arabashiri junmaiginjyo nama

Well balanced sake with a little fizz action at first. Mizokuchi-san advised not to drink arabashiri with the wider cup because it throws off the balance.

ootemon arabashiri

2.独楽蔵 玄(げん)

(Komagura gen enjyuku junmai)

Aged sake. We tried this one at 44℃ with both small cup and wide cup. The wide cup made it to open up a lot more.

3. 独楽蔵悠5年
(Komagura yu 5 years-aged sake) aged for 5 years. Tried at 44℃ and 50℃. I thought 50℃ was terrific.

4. 吟香露

Shochu made with ginjyo sake kasu. Dry smell and nice, but with food, it was too dry.

5. 常陸山
さなぼり(Sanabori Hitachiyama)

This is the controversial shocyu made with sake kasu and rice bran. Mizokuchi-san’s recommendation was to try this with water. Still it was really grassy.

hitachiyama sanabori

6. しそ梅酒(Shiso ume shu) A very pretty and sweet umeshu. I kind of liked this.

Morinokura Umeshu and Shocyu


3 Responses to “Morinokura: Geeky sake tasting”

  1. Geek is the word, is the word that you heard! Oh, I love it. Count me in for the next benkyoukai! That reminds me, I still need to write about the Masaku no Hana tasting: I’m a girl who keeps her promises.

    Can’t wait til out next sake tasting adventure!

    – Melinda 😉

    Posted by melinda | February 20, 2007, 12:30 am
  2. I guess “we” are sake geeks, my friend. See you at the next tasting.

    Posted by Et-chan | February 21, 2007, 5:53 pm
  3. Oh, I know. I’ve been fooling myself (but probably no one else) into thinking that I was merely an enthusiast. But I guess that’s just a euphemism for ‘geek’, anyway. Sorry I can’t make it to the tasting after all, but we’re still on for 3/10. Odayaka here we come!

    Posted by melinda | February 27, 2007, 8:55 am

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