Friday, July 31, 2009

Sake Plaza Tasting List, 2009

I lied. I do remember the sakes I tasted at the Sake Plaza, and I even have the tasting list provided by the Plaza to select from. The numbering initially follows the 1, 2, 3... pattern you'd expect, then gets into the katakana alphabet, then just goes random. Don't worry about the numbering scheme.

The format is:
Name
Type
Origin City
Alcohol level, NSD, bottle size

NSD is the Nihonshu-do "Sake Meter value", where "+" means dry and "-" means sweet". I the numbering normally goes -3 to +10, so the numbers bigger than 10 are probably typos (i.e. - "65" should be "6.5") but I may be wrong. Note that umeshu (plum wine) doesn't have an NSD value.

The notes in parentheses are from the Plaza staff. They also comment that selections 500 and 700 are favorites of westerners, and I and U are staff picks.


1) Yamamoto-honke Shinsei
Junmai Daiginjo
Kyoto
15%, +4, 720ml

2) Kuni-no-cho
Daiginjo
Osaka
16.5%, +5, 720ml

3) Kasumi-Hanabi
Futsu (NamaChozo)
Hyogo
16%, +2, 720ml

4) Tokuwaka-Kiwami
(not given)
Hyogo
25%, -2, 720ml

5) Hamafukutsuru-Nanatsu-ume
Junmai (Kimoto)
Hyogo
16%, +2, 720ml

6 Sensuke
Junmai Ginjo
Hyogo
15.8%, +/-0, 720ml

7) Ichi-kara Karakuchi (Dry)
Tokubetsu Junmai
Wakayama
15.7%, +8, 720ml

8) Mifuku-Jungin-gokujo
Junmai Daigingo
Shiga
10%, +/-0, 720ml

9) Yamato-no-kaori
Ginjo
Nara
15.6%, +4, 720ml

10) Miyosakae
Junmai
Shiga
16.5%, -2, 720ml

A) Yoshinogawa-Rokudan-Umeshu
Sake-umeshu
Niigata
11%, --, 500ml

I) Honkakujikomi-Umeshu
Sake-umeshu
Tochigi
11.5%, --, 500ml

U) Saika-Umeshu
Sake-umeshu
Wakayama
11%, --, 720ml

E) Ume-no-kaori
Shochu-umeshu
Yamaguchi
14%, --, 720ml

O) Hoshiya-mutenka-kokutou
Shochu-umeshu
Kagoshima
14%, --, 720ml

K) Zuisen-kotoku-umeshu
Awamori-umeshu
Okinawa
12%, --, 720ml

500) Ichinokura-komekomeshu
Junmai (sweet & sour)
Miyagi
6.5-7.5%, -65~-75, 500ml

700) Kamoizumi-komekomeshu
Junmai (sweet & sour)
Hiroshima
7%, -60, 500ml

25) Urakasumi
Junmai (tasty)
Miyagi
15-16%, +2, 300ml

35) Gin-no-mai
Junmai Daiginjo (fruity)
Tokyo
13.5%, +1, 720ml

45) Ginkara
Ginjo (fresh & dry)
Chiba
15%, +3, 720ml

50) Hanahato Kijoushu
Junmai (7 year sake, sweet)
Hiroshima
16-17%, -45, 300ml

---------------

My comments (in order tasted):

U - Heavy, sweet, cloying. Excellent umeshu.

3 - Light, a little citric, sharp, like water

9 - Very light, dry, almost minty, a dry earthy aftertaste, very interesting

I - Dry, light, unsweetened plum flavor, almost cranberry-like, really good with club soda(?)

2 - Sweet, light, very fruity, good

6 - Heavier, a little sour, almost ham-like, not bad

A - Very sweet, heavy, candy-like, plum juice, very drinkable

7 - The definition of sake, a little heavy, not fruity, rice-flavored, good

500 - Sweet, light, almost watered down, a little plum-like, fruity

K - Dark brown color, umeshu made using brown sugar, dry, lots of high notes but thin and not all that sweet

50 - Brownish color, similar to K, "a slam to the head with a hammer", harder flavors with obvious alcohol level, earthy brown sugar, weirdest of the group, almost berry-like on the tongue at first.

Like I mentioned in the previous entry, there wasn't a stinker in the bunch. This means that the above sakes were all good, but I did prefer some over the others. For those of you (echo echo echo) paying attention, you may have noticed that there are 11 drinks listed, but I only paid for 2 flights of 5. I don't know if it was because I got two flights or if it was my interest in finding breweries that offer tours to visit, but the staff gave me one extra cup for free. It was U, which is apparently the most popular drink for western visitors. I liked it a lot, but if I were to buy just one bottle of something, I'd either pick 7 (because it's good sake) or 50 (just because it's so weird).

As a side note, the two sake breweries in the Tokyo-Kanagawa area that offer tours to individual visitors are Ozawa and Ishikawa. I'm hoping to visit both soon, and will post web links and reviews when I get the chance.

As a side-side note, if you have any questions about the Japanese words above, most questions can be answered via wikipedia. But, if enough people (2, maybe 3...) ask politely enough, I can answer you here.

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