I was quite busy during the last days with a variety of things and so there is a slightly larger timespan than usual between my last article and today’s. Nevertheless, (or even because of that) it is very nice to return with a wonderful drink and also being able to explore the possibilities of a beverage that is unfortunately rather under-represented behind the bar: Sake. (provided test product)*
Admittedly, it is not really about sake today because it is no pure sake that plays the leading role – neither neat nor in the cocktail below. Instead it is about the Shiragiku Yuzu. The Shiragiku Yuzu is a Japanese liqueur based on sake (unlike the Choya Yuzu which is not based on sake). It is made by the Shiragiku Brewery in Ibaraki, Japan, and is essentially made up of sake, the juice of the coveted yuzu fruit, brewing alcohol (as common with non-Junmai sakes), as well as apple juice and fructose sugar. (For more information on sake – including the different categories – I would like to refer to my articles on the Gekkeikan Nouvelle Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake and the Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo.)
The Shiragiku Yuzu liqueur wants to skillfully emphasize the specific characteristic of the Yuzu fruit, but of course the manufacturer casts more than one eye on the possibilities behind the bar. With “only” 8% ABV we are dealing with a very light drink, which – compared to most spirits – offers correspondingly different options.
Since no colorants were added, we already recognize the addition of fruit juices due to the beautiful, yellowish color of the Shiragiku Yuzu. As already explained elsewhere in the blog, the Yuzu (ユ ズ), like the citrus plants, is a plant species from the family of the Rutaceae and ultimately evolved as a hybrid of different other plants. The aroma is more complex than the one of usual citrus plants and it is therefore also used in the haute cuisine. In Japan, Yuzu is also manufactured with salt and (chilli) pepper into a spice called Yuzukoshō (柚子 胡椒).
So how does the Shiragiku Yuzu perform in a tasting?
Aroma: A very intense, fresh-spicy and full-aromatic fragrance rises in the nose as soon as you move it over the glass. This directly shows what the Shiragiku Yuzu has to offer: an authentic yuzu impression! Who knows the pure juice, easily finds its very essence here. But underneath there are also earthy, filigree hints, which I ascribe to the sake base. Very interesting and complex.
Taste: The Shiragiku Yuzu is by no means too sweet. The Yuzu fruit is also brought to the palate very beautifully and convincing with its spicy-refreshing tones. In addition to that there is a fine sweetness, earthy and floral tones and associations of coconut blossom sugar. The alcohol is not noticeable.
Finish: light, fruity and fresh and rather short.
As a cocktail, today I opted for a long drink / highball (in times of Jörg Meyers Highball bars, one must handle the highball term very sensitively. I continue to use it a bit more generous here on the blog, may Mr. Meyer be gracious and not throw basil stalks at me). Basically it is a modified version of a sake & tonic, which offers itself as a light alternative to gin and tonic. Enhanced with the spicy, fresh and earthy aroma of the Shiragiku Yuzu, fresh raspberries and some raspberry eau de vie (I’ve used F. Meyer’s Eau-de-Vie de Framboise), you’ll get a nice, not too strong, but still very refreshing drink. The beautifully dry Tonic Water from the Red Bull Organics series works wonderfully here, but other, classic tonics will also do fine.
Recipe “Sake Raspberry Tonic”:
5 cl Shiragiku Yuzu
2 cl raspberry eau de vie (for example F. Meyer Eau-de-Vie de Framboise)
Preparation: Crush the raspberries with the Muddler in the shaker, add Shiragiku Yuzu and Raspberry eau de vie and shake vigorously on ice. Then double-strain into an ice-filled highball / longdrink glass and pour in tonic water.
Glass: Highball / Longdrink
Garnish: fresh raspberries
Buying sources: The Shiragiku Yuzu 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.