Someone I look up to, once said that it helps to look at everything from a child’s perspective. Children have very little knowledge and little experience, so they still haven’t formed any prejudices that adults have.
Having had time to digest this famous saying, I think this just basically means, don’t knock it till you try it. The world is so full of mysteries. But with more readily available information, this has been very helpful correcting many of the misconceptions and myths surrounding the different categories of alcohol. Why do most of us cling to hearsays and gossip as gospel, even though the majority of those sources aren’t legit? Will trying something you’re not familiar with at least once, kill you? Will it destroy your image of being a sophisticated drinker by not being seen with a pretentious brand? I cannot comprehend why a lot of people cannot seem to step out of their own box and be more adventurous. Isn’t it boring sticking to the same things all the time? I believe that a curious mind will never stop having fun, as long as they keep asking questions.
Today we have one of the random bottles of sake I bought when I was in Taipei last August. After choosing a few “beginner’s” sake, I asked the staff if they had any uncommon sake and this is what they recommended. If any of you are surprised or curious about the availability of sake in Taipei, it’s great. The Japanese and Taiwanese enjoy a very good relationship with each other. So, there’s a lot of Japanese whisky, restaurants and Japanese influenced bars there as well. I also met quite a few random Taipei locals who spent some time working in Japan.
This sake is called Senkin Organic Nature Quatre Kimoto Muroka Genshu. Senkin is a sake brewery from the Tochigi Prefecture. They have been around since 1806. The current owner is a former wine sommelier. This background made him differentiate Senkin from other breweries, by going pure domaine style. Domaine is a French wine term, which means a producer only bottles wine from the grapes they grow. In Senkin’s case, they’re only bottling sake from the rice they grow.
The “Organic” in the bottle’s label stands for the brewery using organic rice, which is not an uncommon practice in sake making. Kimoto is the traditional way of fermenting the rice. What makes this sake uncommon is it was naturally fermented in wooden barrels. “Nature” refers to the natural fermentation. This means the brewery didn’t add any cultured yeast. Nature is also what the brewery calls these special releases. There were five barrels brewed and this sake is from the fourth barrel. Brewing in wooden barrels is a practice from back in the day. I’m told brewing your mash in wood barrels often gave the mash more flavors. Something about it offering more acid interaction, but this approach could often result in the wooden barrel being tainted, if not maintained properly or used often.
Senkin Organic Nature Quatre Kimoto Muroka Genshu – review
Color: cloudy water.
On the nose: Diluted marzipan, leftovers of a White Lady cocktail in a Martini glass, vitamin c tablet, very weak scents of pickled red chilli.
In the mouth: Oxidized lime juice, slightly peppery with nutmeg, nutty and diluted marzipan followed by undertones of pickled red chilli and dough.
The giddy child in me was ultimately disappointed. But then, this is the first sake I’ve had that was made this way. So, I was partly excited and worried about trying this release.
All of the Daiginjo sake I’ve had so far gave off sweet and fruity notes. But being a fan of Mezcal and certain rum brands like Clairin and Hampden who use natural fermentation, it made me expect some funk or flavors, that I’m not used to coming from sake.
On the other hand, I really expected this to be more enjoyable. The part of my mind that has formed biases over the years told me: I’d love this. Drinking a daiginjo sake would probably be the equivalent of drinking a well aged single malt bottled at 46% abv. But a sake that has had this rice milled 90% away? I saw this to be the equivalent of something like a Douglas Laing XOP release.
Because sake has a low ABV, it suffers from the same fragility as wine. They’re more sensitive to temperature than spirits. My fridge broke down a few months after bringing this home, so the temporary exposure to higher temperatures may have ruined this.
Sake brewers also recommend that their sake is consumed within one year of being bottled. I’ve had other more knowledgeable people joke that brewers say this so more sake are sold. I drank this more than a year after being bottled. But then, my 2 guesses above could be wrong, but these are a few of the things I constantly hear with sake.
Oh well. On the bright side, I should think at least I still listen to my senses then my prejudices.