[REPORT] Miyagi’s Junmaishu Tanabata Party – Interview with Seven Sake Breweries Vol. 2


BY Haco  JUL 15, 2017
On June 28, 2017, twenty-three sake breweries gathered from Miyagi prefecture to Happoen in Tokyo, holding the Tanabata Party. Customers enjoyed delicious Miyagi’s sake and Happoen’s wonderful cuisine and famous Tanabata decoration from Sendai city.
OHACO interviewed seven sake breweries in this time. There are many interesting stories that you can only read here. Enjoy!


Sake brewingthatfull of young guys’ ideasWe received the image of actively making sake with a new perspective with young people from Zao. We interviewed Mr. Watanabe direcotor of Zao who promised to return to his parents’ brewery before 30 year old and promised to help with sake making.

K series brewed by three young guys
“I brought the K series sake (Kokoro series means heart series) only sold at local sake shops”, Mr. Watanabe, the director of the K series, told me happily. “The K series is an epoch-making project that thinks about sake making on our own, making it with all my heart and perfectly control sake quality”, said Mr. Watanabe also. This is the third season of this project. Now this series can only be found at local sake shops, but the reputation is excellent. In the future they are going to increase production.
He introduced K series Summer Nigori sake. The color is slightly cloudy because of Nigorisake. It is refreshing and has a dry taste like summer sake but rice umami after. This sake is really good to drink at cold temperature because the taste will sharpen and it can be a perfect drink for a muggy summer.

Unique sake using local herbsMr. Watanabe has yet introduced another unique sake. It is an herbal liqueur made with sake. This is also a product planned by young employees. Extracts from locally taken lemon verbena’s essences are mixed with sake the next day. This herbal sake has a nice balance of sourness and sweetness. Adding soda to this sake will make it even more delicious!


Sophisticated sake, Sour is the point

Mr. Ito Senior Managing Director of Yamawa is a very fashionable guy. We can feel that he is different and make unique sake that nobody can copycat!

★Sweet sake do not go with cuisine!
“Please taste this first”, that Mr. Ito said and introduced Yamawa Kuranohana 60 Tokubetsujunamai. First impression of this sake is something different and unique that I never drank so far. This is a non-filtered sake therefore color is slightly yellow and the aroma is rich but not strong. This is definitely a dry sake like white wine with full body, so it will go with fish and meat. He said that this sake is made by Miyagi ingredients to fit the local food. Sweet sake does not go with cuisine. So this sake has very dry taste. The strength of Mr. Ito’s belief is transmitted from this beautiful sake which is refreshing aftertaste with sour taste.

★The world’s best sommelier Luka Gardini named it
Mr. Ito recommended a celebrity Junamaiginjo Pulito which named by the world’s best sommelier Luka Gardini. Pulito means beautiful and elegant in Italy. As its name suggests, this liquor is very sophisticated. It has rich Ginjo aroma such as a green apple and its texture is smooth and sensitive, the aftertaste is dry and sour. This sake is aged in minus 3 degrees for 1 year. It is sake made like wine to match Western cuisine.
When we asked about the aging temperature, the temperature is from minus one to minus ten, and the temperature is strategically changed according to the commodity and shipping time. He said strongly never keep sake with plus temperature.
The color of the label is Italian Red and is a stylish gem that reminiscent of an Italian sunset.
We again, realized that how huge the possibility of sake can be after we have met such a stylish sake.


To make the world’s best Junmaishu is the unique CEO

Wearing a Samurai Vest (Kamishimo) and attracting customer with aggressive talk is Mr. Izawa CEO of Katsuyama. Everyone was drawn to “Izawa World”, for one must get drunk on his charm and tasty sake. He introduced two sake for sake beginners and advanced users.

The world class Juanmaishu
First he recommended us the Katsuyama Ken Junamaishu. This is for advance drinkers. This sake is a winner of the SAKE COMPETITION’s Junamaishu section in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, it was second position but we must say that this sake has the world class quality of Junamaishu.
This is a very elegant sake with a soft and graceful aroma, smooth and velvety texture, and  Umami finish. Mr. Izawa said, to make this elegant sake, it is important to polish the rice to remove complicated taste and only leave the best part of the rice. We feel his strong passion for sake and understood how this passion has created such an elegant world class sake!

Riesling? No no no, this is Japanese sake

Katsuyama Lei is the totally opposite sake when compare to Ken. Lei has semisweet body like a Riesling white wine. This aroma of this sake is like that a flavor reminiscent of the kind of subtle sweetness found in rice or amino acids. Therefore this sake is very popular among people who like wine, ladies and beginners of sake. This sake is a good match for uncured ham, brie cheese, camembert cheese etc. Also it is good with light taste desserts.
Both sake are not aggressive but very well balanced. I am sure it you will be surprised.


Finding best balance of sake for cuisine

Shiogama is the best place for catching Tuna in Japan and is very famous for its seafood. Abekan is making sake to go with seafood in Shiogama. Mr. Sugai told us his strong passion to make sake comes from matching sake with food.

Take time to wholeheartedly make sake
Mr. Sugai proudly said their sake ingredients are mainly from Miyagi and that it takes time to make good sake. The main theme of their sake is matching with food. Therefore they focus on making sake which has rice umami and a dry taste. They like the customers to enjoy their meal and their sake together.
He introduced Abekan Junmai Karakuchi to us. It has a light and soft aroma and rich rice taste with a very dry but short finish. He said if sake taste lingers, it will disturb the food. This sake will be good with seafood as Mr.Sugai said but will also be a really good match for the richness of Chinese cuisine.