玉乃光- 純米大吟醸 備前雄町 The Mercedes of sake
Take a look into how this world-class sake is made.
You hear a lot about the quality of grapes when wine is discussed, but did you know that the quality of rice is just as important in sake-making? The sake masters at the long-standing Kyoto brewery Tamanohikari are no strangers to this fact. A selection of the finest rice grains are hand-chosen by the discerning brewers—and in fact, these brewers are so intimately familiar with the importance of good rice that they get involved by going out into the rice paddies each spring, dressed in long rubber boots, to join the farmers in the planting process.
Once the carefully cultivated and high-quality grains are harvested, they are taken to the brewery to start the purification process. The purification or polishing process is the milling of rice grains to strip them of their outer shells, where there is protein, bran, fatty acids and other components that are undesirable in sake. A lot of skill and patience is needed in this purification process, which is slow and gentle to prevent cracking the rice kernels or generating too much heat. It takes Tamanohikari between 30 and 48 hours to mill down to less than 50 per cent of the original grain size, leaving only the purest and most delicious elements of the rice to be used in the Junmai Daiginjo Bizen-Omachi.
Tamanohikari is situated in Fushimi, Kyoto Prefecture, where incredibly pristine and pure groundwater flows. In fact, the water here was recognized in a survey by the Ministry of the Environment in 1985 as being one of the top 100 waters in Japan. Nature’s secret recipe for this pure and delicious water lends to the splendid flavours of Tamanohikari in a way that can’t be imitated anywhere else in the world.
Koji brings the rice to life
Koji, or the mould that is used for fermentation, is massaged into the polished rice by the hands of the sake masters. The koji process requires an incredible amount of skill and experience, as constant fine-tuning is required to get the perfect amount of fermentation.
The pure and simple ingredients of Tamanohikari make it a smooth sake that’s gentler on your stomach than the average bottle. Bursting with aroma and full-bodied, the flavours are delicately balanced between sweet and dry with notes of peach, apple and pear. This sake can be served hot or cold, or even on ice, depending on your mood. Junmai Daiginjo, considered the Mer- cedes of sake, makes up only 5 per cent of the sake market because of the skill and time required to make it. If you want to find out what real sake tastes like, there’s no better place to start.
The Tamanohikari Omachi “Gold” Junmai Daiginjo 300mL bottle is available for $17.05 at the LCBO.
Hangover no more
You won’t wake up in the morning with regrets when you drink this super-refined beverage.
Supreme rice plants that require unique cultivation techniques give harvest to Omachi rice or Okuhomare rice. These plants grow much taller than typical rice plants and produce grains with unique structures that are ideal for brewing premium sake. Little pearls of starch make up the core of each rice grain, with other elements like fatty acids and proteins wrapped around it—unlike ordinary rice, in which these components are mixed together throughout the grain. The fatty acids, a cause of hangovers, are stripped away in Tamano-hikari’s polishing process to create a sake that is delicious and gentle to your body.