What actually Sake is, how it is manufactured, what kind of resources are needed to make it and also what quality differences exist: I have written a few lines about all these aspects in my article about the Gekkeikan Nouvelle Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake. So if you want to to read more about the basic principles of the brewed Japanese traditional drink in a short and concise manner, please take a look at this article. Especially since today’s article again is about sake and it also shows how multifaceted the Japanese “rice wine” can be. (provided test product)*
I don’t want to go into detail on the term “rice wine” and that it is basically wrong here again. Instead we should have a closer look on the really interesting and individual background and the special features of today’s bottle, which listens to the sound name Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo. Anyone who has read the above linked article might already have drawn conclusions about the production process of this sake by means of the name. In fact, the two sakes differ from each other in several respects. However, they have the basic rice “Gohyakumangoku” in common (after the Yamada Nishiki rice the second most popular type of rice in the Japanese sake production).
The polishing rate of the Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo is 55%, so 45% of the rice grains was polished off. It belongs to the quality class of Ginjo sake, which can also be derived from the name, as stated above. And it also points to a subsequent “fortification” with brewing alcohol after the brewing process, as it was also done with the Gekkeikan Nouvelle Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake. But what can you expect from this sake in terms of taste? The description on the back label of the bottle promises bright, fruity tones, which I am really curious about. It is filled at an ABV of 15%.
The sake brewery Yoshinogawa shows once more what huge tradition we are dealing with when talking about sake. While some “Western” spirits are perceived as old and their oldest written mentions date back several centuries, such periods of time are not at all unusual when it comes to sake. And here we are not talking about written mentions but of actually existing breweries! The history of this brewery dates back to the year of 1548 (for comparison, the oldest known mention of the word Whiskey dates back to the year of 1736)! The Yoshinogawa brewery is located in the Japanese prefecture of Niigata in the north of the main island of Honshu.
Aroma: At first there is the sake specific, unique note which turns out wonderfully light and floral. Slightly steamed rice mixes with floral notes of citrus fruits and actually nectarines and / or peaches. I can also find fennel with its subtle anise character.
Taste: On the palate, the Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo convinces with the sake’s unique illusion of an aromatic, crystal-clear mountain spring water which features lightly acidified rice, peaches, aniseed, crystal salt and subtle hints of a fruit orchard.
Finish: dry, fresh, aromatic
This sake is a very nice recommendation for a classic Saketini, and here I would definitely always opt for a gin and not a vodka. It should be a very floral and citrus based New Western Dry Gin. But I have also used it in a stirred cocktail that offers a little more sophistication. Along with some cognac and peach liqueur it is a drink in a Sazerac style with and absinthe-rinsed glass, some licorice and lemon bitters – a liquid poem!
I’ve named the cocktail after a most heart-loving scene from the animation film Kung Fu Panda: A Peach cannot defeat Tai Lung! In this scene the wise master Oogway explains his student the way of things under a peach tree. For some reason, I remembered this scene when I took the first sip of the finished cocktail. (I’ve implemented the scene below)
(I know that Kung Fu has nothing to do with Japan and I do not count among the (Eurocentric) people who simply pigeonhole everything easterly as being more or less the same, but hey – we are talking about a funny animation movie!)
6.5 cl Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo Sake
2 cl (New Western Dry) Gin
1 Dash The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters (optional)
Preparation: Stir all ingredients on ice until cold and strain into your pre-chilled glass.
Recipe “A peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!”:
4 cl Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo Sake
2.5 cl Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula
2.5 cl peach liqueur (for instance Dufouleur Crème de Pêche de Vigne)
1 Dash Bob’s Licorice Bitters
1 Dash The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
approx. 1 bar spoon of absinth
Preparation: Rinse your pre-cooled glass with absinth and discard the rest. Stir the remaining ingredients on ice in a mixing glass until cold and strain into the absinth-rinsed glass.
Glass: Tumbler / D.O.F.
Garnish: Glass served on a plant pot of topsoil with a small garden shovel and a peach
Buying sources: The Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo sake is available at the Berlin Sake Kontor.
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.