To innovate on the tradition
The sake of the samurai
Take a step back in time as you sip sakefrom this traditional brewery.
GOLD Award in the Dai-Ginjo category at the 2014 Toronto International Sake Challenge. Clear. Aromas of vanilla nut brittle, coconut water and papaya custard with a silky, dry-yet-fruity, light-to-medium body and a pineapple sorbet, meringue and saltedradish-accented finish. A soft, alluring sake with a nice balance of fruit.
Okunomatsu’s Tokubetsu Junmai has won the Gold Award for 13 consecutive years at the US National Sake Appraisal. It has a dry and light taste, complemented by subtle hints of peach and melon, with a smooth and hot finish.
If you’re looking for exceptional sake, it’s hard to find a brewery that surpasses Okunomatsu in its array of fantastic choices. And it’s just as hard to find a brewery with such an impressive resume: a winner of dozens of national and international sake awards, the family business has been around for nearly 400 years and the current president is from the family’s 19th generation. Originally of samurai descent, the Yusa family initially became merchants selling canola oil and soy sauce before eventually focusing their efforts on sake, where they found their wild success. The Yusa family’s diligent process of selecting the finest ingredients and their careful and traditional brewing techniques have made Okunomatsu one of the most renowned sake breweries in Japan.
Okunomatsu is located at the foot of Mt. Adatara in Fukushima Prefecture, and the water used in their sake is fresh spring water which comes directly from the mountain to the forest behind the brewery, while the high-quality rice they use is locally grown.
The brewery houses 14 milling machines so that they can mill the rice to meet their exact requirements;it takes two full days to mill the rice for the regular sake—and three days for the Dai-Ginjo sake. On-site experts evaluate the temperature and weather, and make slight adjustments to the way the rice is milled, washed and immersed, creating subtle differences in the sake brewed each year. The koji, or the sake culture, is also descended from the original koji that has always been used by the family and recreates the same flavours that the samurai once drank, lending Okunomatsu’s sake its nickname, “sake of the samurai.” All of their sake bottles are custom-made in unique sizes and the labels are beautifully designed to evoke the same sense of tradition and elegance that is embodied by the sake’s flavour.
For around $36, you can taste the winner of the Gold Award at the Toronto International Sake Challenge, the Sakura Dai-Ginjo. This labourintensive sake is made using traditional tools and precise methods with a long, cold fermentation period, and it requires a lot of attention throughout the entire process, which is what gives it such a premium taste. Light and refined with delicate and sophisticated flavours, the Sakura Dai-Ginjo has a mellow aroma of vanilla nut brittle and dry fruits. The bottle’s beautiful sakura (or cherry blossom) motif serves as an artistic backdrop for the naturally occurring bubbles that emerge when you pour a fresh glass.