This week (as we do EVERY week), we have some really exceptional sake selections for you to enjoy by the glass, bottle, and yes, CAN.
But first, a little edumacation:
Lactic acid in sake brewing: Where does it come from?
There are 3 main varieties of developing the moto or "seed batch" in sake brewing, with one of the main distinctions being whether lactic acid is added or whether it is permitted to develop naturally.
In the sokujo ("quick developing") method, lactic acid is added, and as the name implies, this speeds up the development of the yeast starter, basically cutting the time it takes by half. During a recent screening of the new brewing video from the folks at Miyasaka Brewing Company (the Nagano brewers of the Masumi and Miyasaka brands), a customer asked where this prepared lactic acid comes from, as we watched a brewer pouring lactic acid from a big green bottle into the moto.
Oddly enough, in seven years of business at Sak� Nomi, no one had ever asked this question (Does it balance out the eleventy million sushi requests? Not really.), and we had no clue.
Thanks to our friend Keith Norum of Miyasaka Brewing, now we know. Here's a handy link, so now you know, too!
One of the other varieties of moto making is yamahai.
When brewing yamahai sake, the lactic acid is NOT added to the starter batch, and while naturally occurring yeast and bacteria come into play, lactic acid bacteria also proliferate and do their thing -- sterilizing the environment of the starter batch so that the added cultured yeast can survive and thrive.
Yamahai sake is often a touch sweeter and acidic than more conventional styles, and can exhibit complex, rich, gamey, and downright funky flavors and aromas, in part because those wild yeast and bacteria were allowed to exist in the starter batch for a brief period.
For what it's worth, it's been our experience that a lot of seasoned sake veterans count yamahai brews amongst their favorites. As an added bonus, many yamahai sake make excellent candidates to be enjoyed as kanzake (warm sake), should the weather/situation call for it.
The exceptionally tasty yamahai-style brew we're featuring on this week's glass pour menu is:
"Secret Recipe" Junmai Ginjo
Rich aromas, complex flavors, and an elegant, clean finish. Earthy, grounded sweetness with traces of caramel. Good acidity and nice balance. One of Johnnie's all-time favorites, and soon to be one of yours!
Price: $45/720 ml bottle
Good things come in funky packagesThis weekend, Friday thru Sunday (while supplies last), we'll be featuring unpasteurized namazake that comes in cans, because they're delicious in this warm weather, and because, well, we can.
*Narutotai Ginjo Shiboritate Nama Genshu (the "Oil Can")
*Kikusui Funaguchi Ichiban Shibori series: The first unpasteurized sake commercially available outside the brewery was introduced in 1972 (the "little gold can"), and its popularity continues to grow, along with the breweries canned sake offerings. We'll have 4 available this weekend, and we're featuring the aged ginjo, Jukusei Funaguchi (the "little red can") at a special reduced price.
Normally $14/200 ml can, we've been offered a special deal from the distributor that allows us to reduce it to $11/can. For quantities of 10 or more, we're able to get it down to $10/can, so if you're interested in securing some at this special price, please contact us by 6 pm, Thursday, July 31, and the sake will be available for you to pick it up at the shop on Friday, August 1.
Thanks for reading, thank you for your continued support, and we hope to see you again soon at Sak� Nomi.
Arigatou & Kanpai!
Johnnie and Taiko
Hey there, Nomidachi!
This is just a quick note to let you know about some rare, delicious sake that will be available by the glass ONLY at Sak� Nomi (in the state of Washington, anyway), throughout the weekend.
Kotsuzumi Rojo Hana Ari
Brewery: Nishiyama (est. 1874)
Grade/Polish Ratio: Junmai Daiginjo/50%
Notes: Delicate gold coloring, with very floral, candied fragrances in the nose. Soft & clean, with a surprisingly satisfying dry finish. Elegant & sophisticated, but with substantial character, like a memorable party guest. A multiple international sake & wine competition award winner, it's been described as "perfection in a bottle." Terrific for special occasions & celebrations!
Part of what makes this Kotsuzumi sake special, rare, and precious is the limited production and resultant pricing. As we mentioned back in October, it often sells for $200 and up in other markets, and we were able to initially offer Kotsuzumi Roho Hana Ari at $185/720 ml bottle here in Washington.
For a limited time, our distributor is making the sake available at a reduced price, and we're able to pass the savings along to you. To the tune of $145/720 ml bottle -- a reduction of $40!
We're also featuring a new-to-Washington junmai daiginjo from the folks at Yamagata's Dewazakura Brewery. In Japanese, the sake is called Ichiro, the kanji for which means "one road." The English name chosen by the importer, however is "Abbey Road." The gold medal winner at London's 2008 International Wine Competition (thus, the name), until recently this sake has only been available for purchase in London and Japan. Price: $75/720 ml bottle
Born Junmai Daiginjo Muroka Nama Genshu
Brewery: Katou Kichibee (est. 1860)
Type/Polish Ratio: Junmai Daiginjo/50%
Tasting Notes: Fragrant, fruity, lively, and rich with notes of cinnamon and figs. A Japanese vocabulary lesson of a junmai daiginjo, with a serious case of the "un"s: unfiltered (muroka), unpasteurized (nama), and undiluted (genshu). We think it is one of the best, if not the best, Japanese sak� currently available in Washington.
Additional Notes: Born was Sak� Nomi's first selection from Fukui prefecture. The brewery was established in 1860, and brews only junmai sak� (adding no "brewer's alcohol"), using their own proprietary yeast. The prestigious Born brand was selected as the first "rural" sak� to be served at official Imperial functions, and it was also the first Japanese sak� to be featured at the Cannes International Film Festival. Born was also served at the official reception to kick off the 2002 World Cup.
The name of the sak� is actually pronounced BOHN in Japanese, and was chosen because it can be transliterated into Sanskrit (meaning "pure"), English ("born"), and French (bon, meaning "good" or "wonderful"). We think it means "delicious."
Price: $75/720 ml bottle
We hope you'll have a chance to stop by this weekend and experience these wonderful brews for yourself.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for your continued support.
Arigatou & Kanpai!
Johnnie and Taiko
Konnichi wa, Nomidachi!
They say it's his birthday! He's not 52, yet! (Isn't that how the song goes?)
Yes, it's Johnnie's birthday today, and as has become tradition, his gift to you, Dear Nomidachi, is to share some of his favorite sake via our weekly menu.
So, if you have a chance, stop by and have a taste, and if you extend your sincere best wishes, you'll get the commemorative 4.9% discount. Seriously. Next year, we'll be gearing up for the big "half-off" sale . . .
This Week's MenuAs mentioned above, Johnnie's put together some of his established favorites (including a junmai daiginjo namazake he believes is the BEST sake currently available in Washington) for the menu, and he has also included a very recent new favorite, in the intriguing Tokubetsu Honjozo category.
Wii Wednesday: July 9Wii, er Why not?
Sak� Nomi Cinema: Like Father, Like SonThursday, July 10 @ 7 pm
Break out the tissues for this stirring 2013 internationally acclaimed film from Hirokazu Koreeda. We don't want to give too much of the plot away, but if you'd like a preview, here you go.
New Sake Tasting: July 11-13We're featuring a new-to-Washington junmai daiginjo from the folks at Yamagata's Dewazakura Brewery. In Japanese, the sake is called Ichiro, the kanji for which means "one road." The English name chosen by the importer, however is "Abbey Road." While this fits nicely with Johnnie's moderate Beatles obsession (oh, you didn't notice the Yellow Submarine sneakers?), to get the story behind the name, you'll have to come in and taste and ask for yourself.
Sak� Nomi Cinema: The Yakuza (1975)Saturday, July 12 @ 7 pm
Written by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, directed by Sydney Pollack, and starring Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, and Brian Keith (as the bad guy??!!). Yes, please.
World Cup Final: July 13 @ Noon
Thanks for your continued support. We hope to welcome you back to Sak� Nomi real soon.
Arigatou & Kanpai!
Johnnie and Taiko