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Sake of the week #035: Tatsuriki Junmai Daiginjo Nihon no Sakura

On Saturday, I was back at Mitsuya for Takase-sensei’s monthly benkyokai–or, sake lecture and tasting. I attend religiously. I’ve forgotten when it became an annual event, but the final guest at our group each year has been Honda-kaicho from Tatsuriki. Plus, throughout the year, I’m usually lucky enough to have several opportunities to taste this very sought after brew at some tasting events featuring them or even at their tasting dinner.

One of the great things about tasting the same sake at different times through the year is to see how the sake really changes over time. My pick for Saturday was Junmai Daiginjo Nihon no Sakura with its finish and nicely balanced acidity even before I had the others. Back in June this year, I remember how this bottle had some edgy bitterness at the end. So, I remarked to Honda-kaicho how beautifully Nihon no Sakura bloomed after six months. He said, “Wait for a few more years and you will see, this one is going to be even better.” I trust his recommendation more than anyone.

The man has taken a very scientific approach to his sake by unveiling the mystery of amino acid in nihonshu, sort of a mad scientist. It’s always a lot of fun to hear his latest research into how the soil that rice is grown in relates to the types and quantities of different amino acids in the resulting sake. This year, he had other interesting data about rice milling rates and the amount of amino acid traced in rice. Even at over eighty years old and he is still learning and is enrolled in the research program at Kyoto University to continue to really dig in what makes good nihonshu.

No wonder Tatsuriki never lets me down. Whether it is ¥1,800 Tokubetsu Honjozo issho-bin or Akitsu that costs ¥15,000 for the 720 ml bottle, it always intrigues and satisfies.


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