Japan Brewery Tour (April 16 – 20, 2012)
Welcome back to part two of the tour! Our Sake Master, Andre, told us about the history and the production of Saito Shuzo last week. What is Andre going to tell us this week?
Brewery visit #1 Saito Shuzo
Monday 16th April 2012
We visited the tanks next (always my favourite part of any kura tour). Even though the season was finished, some of the final batches were happily fermenting away. One large tank of futsushu and two tanks of junmai daiginjo (45% polishing rate), one at 16 days, the other at 32 days, 32 days is getting on the longer side of things I’m thinking. “This one is a slower learner”, Takagi San explains as he busies himself searching the surrounding area. I secretly hope he’s looking for cups and my prayer is answered. We taste the Moromi from the older brew, it’s effervescent, alcohol laden milkiness sets my mouth alive, the enzymes, racing across my tongue - I always consider myself lucky when I get to taste nature truly at work.
This is a good segue to get down to some tasting. After a quick inspection of the bottling plant (switched off and packed down for the off season) and a hello to the dispatch staff, (who are hand labeling small batches of premium sake) we head to the tasting room.
The tasting begins
A good range of Eikun products are laid out before me, not only Sake but some of the liquors Saito Shuzo produce too.
On offer was:
Ootaka Tokubetsu Junmai Shu – Iwai rice
Suiten Ippeki Junmai Daiginjo
Ichigin Junmai Daiginjo – Iwai rice
Izutuya Ihei Junmai Daiginjo – 35% and 40% - Iwai rice
Koto Sen Nen Junmai Ginjo – Iwai rice
Koto Sen Nen Junmai Daiginjo – Iwai rice
And the liquors:
Ginjo Umeshu 16%
Ginjo Umeshu Light 8%
Shoga Shu (Ginger) 12%
You’s Time Yuzu Shu 12%
You’s Time Yuzu Shu Light 5%
Koto Bijin Shoga Shu (Light Ginger) 6%
The Eikun philosophy in sake style seems to be soft and feminine and I can appreciate why they are constant award winners. Smooth, light and delicate definitely seem to be the hallmark here.
I was also very impressed with the liquors produced too, especially the You’s Time Yuzushu which is one of the better Yuzu Shu’s that I have tasted.
Inside the Moromine Izakaya
The Eikun experience was completed with dinner at Saito Shuzo`s Izakaya, "Moromine". The name Moromine is a combination of the word Moromi and the kanji for oto (oto means sound in Japanese). So together it stands for the sound that the bubble bursts make during the fermentation of sake mash (Moromi). In short the idea is, that at “Moromine” not only are you eating delicious food that’s great with sake, but the sake you are drinking is really fresh!
The food at “Moromine” is exceptional, Takagi San the perfect host and in my opinion there is no better way to finish a brewery tour than enjoying the local cuisine. The food was well matched with the Eikun stable of sakes and as the adage goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, please enjoy!
Cream cheese with shiokara, perfect to enjoy with sake
Another beautiful dish from Moromine
Takagi-san takes control of the barbeque
Andre Bishop is a Melbourne based Sake Professional and is recognized as one of Australia’s leading authorities on Sake. His 12 years of experience in designing Asian and specifically Japanese venues include well know Melbourne establishments Robot Bar and Golden Monkey. He currently owns the 22 year old Japanese dining institution Izakaya Chuji and Sake Bar Nihonshu. He is also co-owner and founder of Melbourne’s flagship Izakaya and Sake Bar, Kumo in Brunswick East. Andre studied Sake in Japan and is the only Australian who currently holds a Level 2 Sake Professional Certificate from the International Sake Education Council.
Andre is available for Consulting on Sake, Japanese Beverage Lists, Sake Staff Training and Sake Equipment. Contact: email@example.com
Sake Master Andre's blog: www.sakemaster.com.au
Sipping with the Sake Master #5.1
Sipping with the Sake Master #4
Sipping with the Sake Master #3
Sipping with the Sake Master #2
Sipping with the Sake Master #1
Please click here for Sake Master Andre Bishop's older interview