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K&L Staff Recommendations
Milled to 55%, this Junmai sake from Tochigi Prefecture is made from Gohyakumangoku rice and is brewed with water from an underground mountain spring. This is round in style, with a floral note at the finish: "Dry and crisp, the flavors are dominated by mixed nuts, fresh cut green grass and other earthier flavors. Very pleasing for those who want fresh sake flavor, but more complexity beyond the fermented fruit flavors." (producer's note)
Ichishima is a family-owned brewery in the Niigata prefecture that has been making sake since 1790. Located on the western coast of Japan, it's nestled in between the ocean and the mountains, and can receive more than 30 feet of snow annually. The cold temperature allows for an incredibly long fermentation times (roughly five weeks), resulting in light, delicate, and elegant sake flavors that bring new meaning to the word graceful. Niigata sakes are meant to pair well with seafood and sushi; two specialties of the coastal region. The Tokubetsu Honjozo sa... Read More »
This sake was made specially for the organization of Women Sake sellers in Japan by Yoshida Brewery. Its name can be translated as Lady Luck, Lucky Lady, or Frisky Lady. The importer describes it as "trim and saucy, with a caress of wild honey. Our notes: The rich and impressive mid-palate on this sake is followed by a long finish. As 60% of the rice grain has been polished away, only the pure starch kernel of the Miyamanishiki rice is left for the brewing. This is really a very lovely sake, with nice finish, a bit of spice and gentle acidity at the... Read More »
94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Very pale yellow. Complex nose offers saline, herbal and spicy notes, with a minty coolness. Wonderfully subtle, complex and precise, with a distinctly ethereal quality, high-pitched minerality and superb lift. Finishes very dry and persistent, with lovely lift. This is made inside an igloo in Hokkaido, in Japan's extreme north, where below-freezing temperature prevents unwanted bacteria from surviving, thus ensuring a very pure sake. The clear sake is separated from the fermenting rice lees by putting it into canvas bags and allowing the sake to drip ou ...Read More »
This is a surprisingly delicious considering the bargain basement price. Soft, crisp flavors of citrus with refreshing acidity, the Typhoon could easily be thrown into a white wine tasting as a dynamic substitute. For the price, it also makes a fantastic mixer into specialty cocktails. Try it instead of dry vermouth in a martini, or use it in a Corpse Reviver instead of Lillet. Again, for the money, it's a fantastic beginner's bottle that brings clean, authentic sake character for a bargain.
Light and smoky, with a notes of honeydew melon and cherry pits. Fragrant and clean, this is a terrific value! It comes from Yamagata..
Yamada Nishiki rice milled to 55%, this sake is brewed carefully and slowly at low temperatures using traditional brewing techniques and characterized by a well-rounded flavor with a solidness to the flavor and fragrance, and a clean finish.
Located in the Yamagata region of northern Japan, the Fuji Brewing Company was founded in 1778 and is now led by the 13th generation of the Kato family. The Kato’s named their sake after Mt. Fuji because they wanted their sake to be as glorious as this symbol. Honkara is an abbreviation for Honjozo Karakuchi, which is a classic type of sake. Honjozo is rich and robust. Karakuchi means it is dry. Prized for its richness and its dryness, Eiko Fuji Honkara is a wonderful and balanced representation of the style.This sake has a light and silky mouthfeel, som... Read More »
94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Very pale color. Complex, subtly saline aromas of lemon, lime zest, white rose and mint; also in a high-pitched, rather “northern” style. Very suave on entry, then rich and fine-grained, with terrific aromatic lift in the middle palate. Broader than the Divine Droplets: this really spreads out and melts into the tongue. Finishes very long, with noteworthy finesse. The alcohol here is actually a rather high 17.9%. This brewery is built around the well that supplies its water." (1/2007) K&L Notes: Yamada Nishiki Milled to 35%, made by Nanbu Bijin Shuzo in the I... Read More »
Importer notes: "You notice immediately the darker color due to the Black Koji Kin they use to make Kojimai. Musky and Rich flavor. Very Yeasty with a good amount of floral aroma signifying a Daiginjo. Strong attack, Strong body and a solid finish. Strong presence of tart green apples and pears. A very unique sake."
The mineral aspects of this wonderfully crisp sake are the main focus, but there's a bit of fruit as well to round out the back end. It's just a polished, strikingly elegant sake that should pair with just about anything.
Inventory: San Francisco
Fresh, fruity, clean, and delicious! There's a bit of sweetness on the back end and the stone fruit elements are pronounced all the way through. An absolute joy to drink and easily at the top of my list for recommending to both sake experts and newcomers alike.
Inventory: San Francisco
Made with Home-grown Yamada Nishiki rice, the Chikurin "Karoyaka" is a lighter sake with gentle flavors. It shows floral and herbal aromatics, followed by hints of champagne and cherries on the palate. It complements oysters, sushi, sashimi, salads and other light foods. Brewed by the Marumoto Brewery founded in 1867 at the base of the Chikurin-ji Mountains, in Okayama-ken, one of Japan’s most prized agricultural regions. The Brewery was originally called Shimizu-ya, literally meaning "spring water store" because it was built in the site of a great water... Read More »
With 50% of the rice polished away, the creamier elements of the grain are allowed to shine in the "Southern Beauty". Rounder on the palate, with hints of white pepper of the finish, this is like a fuller-bodied Chardonnay.
Inventory: San Francisco
Gohyakumangoku rice milled to 59%, this unfiltered sake still has the lees in it, which gives it a cloudy appearance and a bit sweeter taste than a more modern filtered sake. Made by Rihaku Shuzo in the Shimane Prefecture, it is rich, creamy and quite long at the end.
Polished to 50 percent, this Junmai Ginjo is made by Kaetsu Shuzo, who uses rice grown on the high plains and pure mountain water of the Niigata Prefecture to brew superior sake, both rich in aroma and clean in taste. Intense aromas of grilled nuts, pistachio, and a hint of warm liquid cocoa. In the mouth, the flavors follow through with nuts and melon as it heads for a crisp finish, and then just a hint of lingering sweetness. It is at once savory and sweet, and has enough power to make it a great match with a wide variety of food pairings. A truly dist... Read More »
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Very pale yellow. Assertive aromas of citrus fruits and smoke, with a subtle saline element. Fairly rich and voluminous but with an airy texture. A very suave, mouthfilling example with a lightly sweet impression and very good breadth. 2007" K&L Notes: Yamada Nishiki & Tamakasae polished to 50%. From the Totturi Prefecture, one of the least populated in Japan. The clean air and cold winters are conducive to good sake brewing. It shows a nose of honey, and an almost Riesling-like aroma. Soft on the palate, with a nice clean finish and good richness, with a hint of ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Possibly the sexiest Nigori we have ever tasted. You don't usually see Nigori at a Ginjo level! This is sleek and delightfully light. There is a touch of carbonation which helps lift the sweetness of the rice. Great fruity notes and a very clean style for a creamy sake. (Keith Mabry, K&L Hollywood)
The distinctive snowflake on this label is reminiscent of the cool flavors of this unusually made sake. Made in the "Kimoto" method - an ancient brewing method that basically uses native yeasts in a more labor intensive melding of the Koji and rice - this sake develops wonderful complexity. Beautiful notes of melon, anise and bold rich flavors linger on the medium dry finish. (Keith Mabry, K&L-Hollywood)
Dewazakura was the first to introduce the ginjo style of sake designed to be drunk cold, almost 30 years ago. The rice varietal here is Yamadanishiki polished to 40%. The acidity level is 1.2 and rates a +6.0 on the Sake Meter. We recommend keeping it refrigerated for freshness. Ultra clean, yet building aromatic layers with subtle stone fruit and hints of yellow flowers. This has great complexity, with a long and lovely finish, a medium to rich mid-palate and very fine finish.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Very pale, green-tinged color. Fruity, vibrant aromas of lime, fennel and minerals, with a hint of white pepper; this one is also rather Chablis-like. Rich and soft in the mouth, conveying lovely fullness without weight. Just a bit aggressive and warm on the finish. This needs to be served with food. The water in the Hiroshima prefecture is known for being very soft. Made by one of the very small number of female brewers in Japan. (2007)" Wine Spectator: "*Very Good* Shows flavors of peppered greens, with apple and clove notes. Subtle." (5/2013) K&L Notes: Yamada Nishiki and Hatta Nis... Read More »
Ichishima is a family-owned brewery in the Niigata prefecture that has been making sake since 1790. Located on the western coast of Japan, it's nestled in between the ocean and the mountains, and can receive more than 30 feet of snow annually. The cold temperature allows for an incredibly long fermentation times (roughly five weeks), resulting in light, delicate, and elegant sake flavors that bring new meaning to the word graceful. Niigata sakes are meant to pair well with seafood and sushi; two specialties of the coastal region. The Ginnoyorokobi Daigin... Read More »
Ichishima is a family-owned brewery in the Niigata prefecture that has been making sake since 1790. Located on the western coast of Japan, it's nestled in between the ocean and the mountains, and can receive more than 30 feet of snow annually. The cold temperature allows for an incredibly long fermentation times (roughly five weeks), resulting in light, delicate, and elegant sake flavors that bring new meaning to the word graceful. Niigata sakes are meant to pair well with seafood and sushi; two specialties of the coastal region. The Ginjo Koshu sake is ... Read More »
With 16 generations of history, Tomita Brewery brews using old-school and traditional methods. They use locally grown indigenous Tamazakae rice polished to 60%, and are blessed with natural spring water from the nearby Ibuki mountains, which is perfect for brewing. Every step of the process is done by hand by 1 toji and 3 kurabito, or brewery workers. This namazake, or unpasteurized sake, is a seasonal sake only available in the winter immediately after fermentation completes. The sake is layered with abundant flavors and aromas. Fresh, bright and dry, i... Read More »
Akita Seishu was founded by Jushiro Ito in 1865 in a 150-year old thatched roof estate that was built at the end of the Edo period in Daisen City, in Akita Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. Akita Seishu values everything local, and treasures the harmonious relationships between man and nature. Akita Seishu's Dewatsuru is available in the United States for the first time. The name literally means 'the crane of the Dewa region,' and this sake brings to mind the beautiful, graceful birds, with regal lines, showing off their plumage in the snow country of n... Read More »
This Nigori (unfilterd) sake is quite special. Often Nigoris are sweet, and not of the highest quality. In contrast, this sake has rice that has had 50% of the grain polished off, resulting in a better quality spirit. This is a premium sake with no alcohol added. It has terrific aromatics and is drier on the palate than is typical. Leesy, complex, and long, this is a treat.
Founded in 1939, the Fuji brewery is managed by the 3rd generation Imaoka family in the town of Izumo. The town is famous for its shrine, Izumo Taisha, built in the 8th century. This shrine is regarded as the oldest and most important shrine in all of Japan. Shinto deities from around the country come every October, "The Month of the Gods" to answer the prayers of people. A sacred ritual. In its name, Izumo Fuji sake pays admirable tribute to both this shrine and to Mt. Fuji, the most loved and revered symbol of Japan. The Imaoka family brews using old s... Read More »
We often tell people to drink that bottle of sake up quickly like a white wine. Such a delicate liquid must go bad quickly after exposure to that monster of a molecule, O2, right? Turns out, we've all been making a terrible mistake...at least some of the time. While it's true that many sake will go flat sitting in the fridge after a week, a select few will continue to open and blossom for weeks or even months. We know that sake can age in the bottle, but the Yuho is something completely different. This stuff is made like no other sake in Japan. This exci... Read More »
The incredible Dewazakura brewery is one of Yamagata prefecture's finest and most inventive brewers. This is their top of the line offering featuring 35% polish and +3 on the Sake Meter. Acidity registers at 1.2. After a long slow fermentation this special Sake is aged for 5 years before bottling. The result is an ultra rich, dense body, yet without oxidized flavors or funkiness at all. Exotic floral and fruit notes explode from the glass along with the wonderful deep texture. The power and complexity means that this wonderful sake can be enjoyed with so... Read More »
This is an undiluted (genshu) Junmai Daiginjo brewed with top class Yamada Nishiki rice from the Hyogo Prefecture, its home ground. Yamada Nishiki rice does not break even if polished to a high degree. After steaming, the rice has a high water content and is very elastic, so that it can produce outstanding koji. Especially when the koji-making process takes longer than 50 hours and is carried out for a long time at high temperatures, Yamada Nishiki shows its strength. Brewed with the apple yeast discovered by the fourth director of the Nakao Sake Brewery... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City