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Koten hosen

Igarashi Syuzo “Tenranzan Koten” Junmai Ko-syu Sake (Japan) – 500 ml. Indifferent. Just not interesting in any way. Not even interesting enough for it to be worth explaining the specific ways in which it’s uninteresting. (1/11)

Friends, countrymen

The Jizake “Choshu Roman” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Japan) – There’s something here…earthy, a little herbal, setting up a vacation home in the realm of umami…that’s unusual in my sake experience. This, though, is a closeout and I wonder if this intriguing character is due to some essential quality or because the bottle’s too old (there’s no apparent lot or date indication on the label, though there are some smudges of something that might once have been same). Whatever the source, there’s a delicacy, quiet nervosity, and balance to this that I haven’t quite experienced before in my extremely neophytical rice-beverage explorations. I really like this, in case it’s not obvious. (12/10)

Tenrazan to date my daughter

Igarashi Syuzo “Tenrazan” Junmai Daiginjyo Sake (Japan) – 500 ml. “Medium-dry” says the bottle, and it certainly is, but as is somewhat typical (at least in my limited experience with sake) there’s as much of a textural feeling of sweetness from the alcohol as there is from any residual sugar. What’s nice here is that the alcohol, so often an incessant bagpipe drone in sake, is completely integrated and well-balanced; you’ll know it not by the taste, but by the headache the next morning. So, what else? White peaches and syrup-infused pears, and rather a lot of both. Almost overwhelmingly fruity, in fact. There’s also…well, this is a little on the obscure and dated side, but a long while ago there was a sugar-substitute (made from ever-beloved saccharine) that came in the form of a clear liquid. This tastes like that. And I suspect it’s not lost on anyone, whether or not they’ve tried the long-forgotten product of which I’m speaking, that to make this comparison isn’t exactly a compliment. I want to like this more than I do, due to its supple form, but I feel like I’m drinking a simulacrum of sweetened fruit. (11/10)

Just a seki

Nishinoseki “Tezukirui” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Japan) – I’m terrible at discriminating the elements of sake; so much of the core of it tastes more or less fine to me, and I’m often more excited by the gross textural appeal of unfiltered versions than I am of anything more normal. But let’s give it a shot. A little soft and tropical, leaning on banana and a fake sort of bubblegum notion of peach, but smooth and flowing. The texture is utterly seductive, but the content of that texture just isn’t that interesting. (10/10)


Tentaka Kuni “Hawk in the Heavens” Junmai Sake (Japan) – 2007 is stamped on the bottle…I think. It’s very faint, and obscured by characters. The sake, however, is not obscured by character…it is a character, dancing and leaping around the palate in a way that, at least in my experience, is pretty unusual for the genre. Do I like it? Yes, it’s pleasant enough. (9/10)

Yamahai, yama low

Miyasaka “Yamahai 50 Nama” Ginjo Sake (Japan) – I’m not enough of a sake expert to competently discuss the differences. Rather light on its feet, overall, with polish (pun intended) but a general simplicity; the sort of sake you’d drink quickly, on the way to something with a little more verve. (5/08)