Premium Ginjo

A bold, complex sake that will tantalize your tastebuds without compromising your wallet.

For those of us who aren’t studied experts, the subtle flavours of sake are often lost on us, making it difficult to appreciate the nuances of the drink. But Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo is not subtle. Its enticing aromas evoke green banana, papaya and Bartlett pear, while its smooth silkiness fills your palate with multiple layers, building flavour and warmth upon flavour again. While this Ginjo finishes with a slightly sharp, astringent aftertaste, it is still quite pleasant to continue sipping. This sake is authentic, without the alcohol-ish or overly distilled aftertaste that plagues many sake. We tried this premium Ginjo on its own, following the manufacturer’s suggestion to serve it lightly chilled. Afterwards, we put the sake through its paces, enjoying it at room temperature with sushi, teriyaki and a variety of snacks. This sake works—it is pleasant to drink on its own, but would be an equally pleasant addition to a wine tasting or to accompany a fine meal. It also pairs surprisingly well with sesame, and would probably make a lovely accompaniment to Korean dishes as well.

California has begun producing great Japanese-style sushi rice that creates lovely, full-bodied sake like this one, which is made by Takara USA Inc., in Berkeley, California. While such sake is typically made in Japan from the finest rice that has been milled and polished to remove a third of its casing, extracting the aroma and floral notes normally associated with Junmai Ginjo, this sake goes above and beyond. This premium Ginjo uses techniques normally associated with the highest grade of sake, Daiginjo, milling and polishing the rice to half of its original size to enhance the rice’s aromatic fragrances and give it a bold presence. Straddling the two styles while also using innovative techniques with special yeasts that ferment at lower temperatures result in a sake that is a complex addition to any evening.

Takara USA Inc. has given this lovely, full-bodied sake a beautiful package. The frosted bottle is adorned with a blossom painted in the sumi-e style. And at $11.55 CDN, this Premium Ginjo compares surprisingly well with more expensive sakes. Look for Sho Chiku Bai at your favourite sushi restaurant, and experience nigiri, maki and sashimi the way they were meant to be enjoyed: with a Premium Ginjo to complete the meal.