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Sake of the Week #053: Nabeshima Summer Moon

Nabeshima Summer Moon

If you find a theme, and that theme matches the season, and then a few nice co-workers send you a bottle or three, you might as well go with it. This bottle arrived by takkyuubin just before we left for Joy of Sake and it has been on my mind ever since. In particular, since Jon commented recently how he seemed to be on a roll with sake from Saga, I thought I’d pull this one out of the fridge, and was very glad I did. This sake gave us several tastes over time and temperature.

Nabeshima comes to us up in Tokyo in small quantities from Kyushu. They make around 450 koku per year–a pretty small brewery. And, what’s more, in the words of their owner-brewer, they pretty much started over from scratch just over ten years ago. But they make good, clean and full-bodied sake that did well with a little nama-ham for appetizer and Et-chan’s ratatouille for dinner.

On first tasting very chilled out of the fridge I got a sensational start and clean but slightly lingering finish–brisk and refreshing as as a “Summer Moon” sake should be on a hot August evening. I did feel inspired to open the back balcony doors and look for the moon, but no dice so I went back in under the aircon. It was at least 30ºC out there if not hotter as the concrete poured back all of the sun absorbed today. The only silvery moon for us was coming out of a bottle.

A little later, as it sat on the counter, another choko gave quite a bit more acidity, but still very balanced. It took almost another 30 minutes out of the fridge before Et-chan said “Now that’s Nabeshima!” A lot more sweetness came out, but with each change: more acidity, more sweetness, it was still in a good balance. Maybe a more refreshing drink chilled, but much more substantial an hour later–and warmer. I almost went for the stove to heat it up a bit to see how much more it would develop, but maybe tomorrow…

It’s been quite a while since I visited Kyushu, but if the sake itself isn’t attraction enough, Nabeshima has a very good website [Japanese only but with enticing photos]. They are promoting “Green Tourism” which includes rice planting, weeding, harvesting, and then of course brewing and drinking. Sounds a lot like the kind of hands-on program at Kinpou Shuzo that gave me a first taste of sake brewing.

This Summer Moon Ginjo was a Silver Medal winner at Joy of Sake in 2008 and I managed to sample the briefest sip in Hawaii last week. They seem to continue to do very well with this style.

If like for me, Saga is too far away right now, visit their website for an introduction, and have a look at Iimori-san’s blog too.


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