Dear Sake Drinker,
Welcome to the September Issue of America's sake-centric Newsletter.
In this issue get your grip on a value play in the sake world to save
a few bucks, learn which sake is so good it "makes women cry," find
out which sakes we carry at True Sake that won medals at this year's
International Wine Challenge, read why you should always bring a
bottle of sake to your favorite Vietnamese restaurant, and discover
what sakes have recently been in Beau's glass.
CLOSED on Saturday 10/1 (but see you at Sake Day Event!)
In this issue:
Sake Focus - Wakatake "Onna Nakase" Makes Us Cry!
We all know the name. We've heard it plenty. And most of us have
consumed plenty of it. Why not? Historically it has been the number
one imported and selling Daiginjo in the US. And that bottle! Yes
indeed, perhaps one of the most recognized sake bottles in the
industry. Yes, the square one. But there is nothing "square" about the
The Omura Brewery has been exporting sake to the US for over 30 years
from their small kura in Shizuoka Prefecture. They capitalized on a
general term for sake in Japan by branding it in the US. That "term"
is Onikoroshi, and it translates loosely into "The Demon Slayer." Add
that to their marketing name Wakatake (For years I used the words
Walkie-Talkie to help me remember it) and you get the powerhouse sakes
known as Wakatake Onikoroshi "Demon Slayer."
I personally have had a great relationship with the Mastunaga family.
In fact, when I stayed at their brewery/house as a guest I once left a
token of my appreciation in the form of a red leather guest book for
others to sign after visits. I had "Hotel Wakatake" embossed on the
leather. They are simply a great family with a great track record for
helping the West discover premium sake. Their efforts have been
extremely instrumental in the education of the US market, and I am
honored to sell their Junmai Genshu, Junmai Nigori, Tokubetsu Junmai
Hiyaoroshi Fall Draft, Junmai Ginjo, and of course their Junmai
Daiginjo. It has been a wonderful almost decade-long relationship.
When I was last at their brewery, perhaps five years ago, I was not
only treated to a brilliant working tour of their operation, but was
fortunate enough to be "admitted" into their tasting room. Ha! What an
experience. (At times though I get sort of sad, because you get to
taste all of the items that you cannot have at home.) There I was
tasting away, the brews that I knew and sold, and the "others." Well
at that time the Junmai Genshu was an "other." It was not exported,
and after my trip I highly recommended that they should indeed get
that brew to the US. (Dry, fat and velvety with a good acidity play it
is a very solid food pairing brew if you have not yet explored it.
Great with artichokes) Lo and behold the powers that be, namely the
importers, agreed and they did export the Junmai Genshu. Success
people! I'm always looking out for good attainable sakes for us and
But also in the tasting room, in a familiar green square bottle was
another "Other" sake that would never make it to the West. In fact the
brew that I was looking at, the one that had the coolest label and box
is a sake that typically sells out in one week in Japan. It was the
king of the "Other" sakes and after tasting it, I knew why. The
Wakatake brewery makes a Junmai Daiginjo that has legendary standing
in Shizuoka and all of Japan and rather than being called the "Demon
Slayer" it is referred to as the sake that is so good it "Makes Women
Cry." How about them apples? What a name! "Onna Nakase" I sort of wish
that I had that nickname. I remember tasting the special sake, but
tried to forget it on account of the fact that it would never be
exported to the US.
Never say never.
Fast forward to three weeks ago, when the importer called and said,
"Hey Beau!" - He always says that - "Hey Beau!" What? "I have a very
special sake for you." Okay. "I will send you a sample." Great. Thank
You. Two days later I was looking at a bottle of Wakatake "Onna
Nakase." I called him back. "Hey you!" What? "Why did you send me the
Onna Nakase? It's not available here." Oh yes it is! "Are you
serious?" Yes. "I thought that they didn't export it." They are doing
me a favor because we have done such a good job selling the Wakatake
Junmai Daiginjo for so many years. "No way!" Yes. "Who gets it?" Only
you and one place in New York. "Wow." Are you happy? "This makes a man
So there you go people. True Sake is now sporting a truly remarkable
sake that was formulated in 1980. The box reads: "We came up with the
flavor of this sake for people who like the true flavor of real sake."
And it makes women cry for the deliciousness of the sake. The image of
the woman on the label may portray a lady weeping whilst reading a
love letter. Or she is weeping reading the restaurant bill after a
long night of drinking Onna Nakase. Who knows? But at least we now
know that you can try this brew for yourself to see if the tears flow.
How is this brew different from your beloved Wakatake Onikoroshi
Junmai Daiginjo - the Demon Slayer? Well, on paper they are sort of
similar except for the rice. But in the glass they are vastly
different. They both are Junmai Daiginjo, and they both were rested
for 6 months before release date. Of course they both use the same
brewing water and share the same brewing yeast (kobo): Shizuoka HD-1.
Their milling percentages are both 50% and the alcohol content is
generally the same at 16.0 - 16.9% They have similar body
measurements. (Wakatake Demon Slayer: SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.4 Amino
Acidity: 1.2) (Wakatake Onna Nakase: SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.3 Amino
Acidity: 1.1) But the big difference is the rice varietals.
Wakatake Demon Slayer uses a rice varietal called Aichinokaori, which
I believe comes from next door Aichi Prefecture. Wakatake Onna Nakase
uses two varietals one for koji and shubo called Yamadanashiki and one
for steaming called Gohakyumangokyu, which are both polished to 50%.
In a word the "Onna" uses more expensive brewing rice, but this
doesn't necessarily translate into better sake if it is not crafted
better. These two sakes should be considered companion brews, and not
one being better than the other, just different! I sound like such a
dad there. No, jimmy is not better than you Stevie, you are just
different! In any case both sakes are superb, and that is evident in
the fact that the Wakatake Junmai Daiginjo "Demon Slayer" just won a
Silver Medal at the International Wine Challenge. (So too did the
Wakatake Junmai Ginjo - please see the other IWC winners in the
Newsletter section below.)
Wakatake does not put release dates on their bottles, but I know the
date of the release for the Onna Nakase. It was made last spring and
rested over the summer and was released late last Fall. The new Onna
is not yet released. Many who have tried the sake feel this extra
bottle aging gives the sake an even richer and more full-bodied
complexion. I personally feel that it gives the brew far more
personality and complexity. The good news is that you will taste the
irony in the names as the Demon Slayer drinks bright, light and
fruity, almost tropical, whilst the sake that "Makes women Cry" drinks
masculine, rich and full. But what's in a name?
If you are a fan of Wakatake this is an experience that you should not
miss. Will we get more cases in the future? I cannot say. All I can
say is that I was extremely pleased when I saw the bottle, and even
more pleased when I tasted the sake that I had not had in over 5
years. Now you can too!
Herewith is my review of the Wakatake "Onna Nakase"
Wakatake "Onna Nakase"
From Shizuoka Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: +2 Acidity:1.3
The nose on this "Exclusive" and sold out sake in Japan is a
collection of oatmeal, cooked grains, steamed rice, cantaloupe and
chestnut elements. The name of this sake translates to "Makes
women cry" and for good reason as the complexity and drinkability
of this sake is second to none. Far more masculine than the
Wakatake Daiginjo this brew drinks rich, and round with a long
tail. So many flavors on so many levels behold raisin, dry figs,
vanilla, noughet, brown sugar, overly ripe fruit, and touch of
breakfast bar. A true red wine drinker's Daiginjo with a full-
bodied personality and a long finish, which does better in a
larger glass. More rich and creamy characteristics come forth as
it warms, and actually warming this sake makes a nice rich and
bright drinking experience. WORD: Complex WINE: Bordeaux BEER:
Large ales FOODS: Savory dishes, grilled fish and chicken, exotic
sushi rolls, rich sauces. $54/720ml
And when you do taste this beauty please be sure to take a photo of
yourself crying so that you can share it with all of your fellow
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Sake Economics - Ishobin = The Value Sake Bottle
As I am writing this the stock market just crashed 630 points. Gulp!
And as I am writing this the Japanese Yen just gets "stubbornly"
stronger versus the dollar despite the Japanese government selling
trillions of Yen to cool it down. What does this mean to you my dear
sake fans? It means sake ain't getting any cheaper - said in my best
car salesman's voice. So act now! (Just couldn't resist the last
sentence - also said in the same voice.)
In a word, sake is expensive. Perhaps too expensive in some cases, and
that is why Miwa and I have been eliminating some sakes that have gone
up too much in price and simply are not worth the price to quality
ratio. We won't sell a sake for $36 if the quality of the brew is
roughly pegged at the $22 range. That does not give sake a good name.
We are constantly on the lookout for values from our distributors and
importers, and we try to pass these on to you guys. And of course we
will never give up our Secret Word Sake (see the bottom of this
newsletter). That said, Miwa always lists the sakes that are on some
form of sale at the store in the "Specials" section of the newsletter.
It's really a good deal and more people should take advantage of them.
There is, however, one way to find value at all times at True Sake.
It's called an "Ishobin," but you may think of it as 60 fluid ounces
of liquid love. Yup! Those huge "magnum" looking bottles are called
Ishobins and they contain 1.8L of sake in each bottle. The smaller
wine-sized bottles of sake are called "Yongobin" and they hold 24
fluid ounces. If my math is correct two Yongobins equates to 48
ounces, which is still 12 ounces less than the mighty ishobin.
Why am I telling you this? Because it's the economy stoopid! Well,
actually it's the economics of it. Ishobins are priced very well
versus the 720ml bottles. And therein rests your value. You get more
bang for the buck with the 1.8L bottles. (That is why restaurants love
selling sake from Ishobins - more zen for the yen!)
Currently we have 36 different Ishobins in the store and we have
access to perhaps 50 others. And before you state the obvious, "But I
can't drink all of that!" line remember two things. First you don't
have to slug it down in a night. It's not wine. It's not going to
oxidize with wine-like speed. It's pasteurized and can remain in your
fridge from 2-3 weeks before you may notice some "aging." (But if
"aging" does occur, you can heat the sake up rather than chucking it.)
Secondly, don't think about 2 ounce pours. Pour your sake in wine
quantities - 5 or 6 oz pours. In this case your 60 fluid ounces seem
far more "doable."
And talk about a party animal! Ishobins are killer for parties. And
trust me when I tell you that when you show up at a party with a
monster bottle of sake you immediately become the talk of the party.
Oh well perhaps the sake becomes the talk of the party, and you must
play the sake's wingman or wingwoman.
Herewith are some examples of the "value" of an ishobin:
What's the point? As the picture states "Don't Be A Lightweight" It's
a great way to get more sake at a good price point. And don't feel as
if it will go bad in the bottle. You'll go bad before your sake will!
- Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai: $18 (720ml) / $30 (1.8L)
- Otokoyama Tokubetsu Junmai: $27 (720ml) / $52 (1.8L)
- Masumi Junmai: $28 (720ml) / $57 (1.8L)
- Bishonen Junmai Ginjo: $21 (720ml) / $48 (1.8L)
- Aramasa Junmai: $28 (720ml) / $57 (1.8L)
- Dewazakura Oka Ginjo: $34 (720ml) / $68 (1.8L)
- Kikusui Junmai Ginjo: $29 (720ml) / $56 (1.8L)
- Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo: $46 (720ml) / $96 (1.8L)
- Tsukasabotan Tokubetsu Junmai: $44 (720ml) / $66 (1.8L)
- Shirataki Jozen Junmai Ginjo: $39 (720ml) / $74 (1.8L)
Go big or go home........
Note: WE SHIP 1.8L IN ONE OR TWO BOTTLE PACKS!
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Sake Awards - The International Wine Challenge
Last year a volcano eruption kept me from being a judge again at the
International Wine Challenge, but this year the skies were a little
more clear. That said I did go right after experiencing the massive
earthquake in Japan. Makes me wonder what will unfold next year. Ha!
What can I say other than this year's event was superb! And the sakes
were even more superb than the event! And that is great news for all
We tasted 486 sakes in two days. Some sakes were tasted up to four
separate times. And all in the all the quality of the sakes was
through the roof. As the senior sake judge I was privy to many of the
thoughts of the other judges and to a person they all agreed that the
quality of 99.9% of the sakes was terrific. I personally found very
few entrees that were "off" and the number of damaged or non-
"judgeable" sakes was well down from the year before.
I wrote a little piece about the IWC in the
May issue of the True Sake
Newsletter, but the winners had not yet been released. Well I
am glad to say that they have been released and you may see the
International Wine Challenge - Trade Search for IWC Award Winning Wines
Simply click on the "Sake Category" section - scroll down to the
category that you are interested in.
Herewith is a list of sakes that were judged at the IWC Tasting and
are currently available at True Sake or could be special ordered
(s.o.) for you.
- Junmai Trophy Winner: Tengumai
- Junmai Ginjo Trophy Winner: Dewazakura Omachi (s.o.)
- Honjozo Trophy Winner: Ichishima (s.o.)
- Kakurei Daiginjo Bronze (s.o.)
- Dewazakura Daiginjo Silver
- Masumi Yumedono Commended
- Gasanryu Honjozo Silver
- Urakasumi Honjozo Commended
- Hideyoshi Honjozo Commended (s.o.)
- Kotsuzumi JDG Bronze
- Hoyo JDG Bronze
- Kakurei JG Commended (s.o.)
- Dewazakura Omachi JG Gold and Trophy (s.o.)
- Chokaisan JDG Gold
- Masumi Nanago Yamahai DG Commended
- Born Wing of Japan JDG Commended
- Born Muroka Nama Genshu
- Bronze Kirinzan JDG Commended
- Hakurakusei JG Bronze (not available)
- Wakatake JDG Silver
- Wakatake JG Bronze
- Taiheizan Tenko JDG Silver
- Yukinobosha JG Bronze
- Yamahoushi JG Bronze (no longer imported)
- Kuheiji JDG Commended (s.o.)
- Tengumai Yamahai Junmai Gold and Trophy
- Kasumitsuru Kimoto Junmai Commended (no longer imported)
- Masumi Okuden Junmai Commended
- Gasanryu Fuka Junmai Bronze
- Harushika Umakuchi Yondan Commended (s.o.)
- Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai Commended (s.o.)
- Nishinoseki Junmai Silver
- Wakatake Junmai Genshu Commended
- Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai Silver
- Shichihonyari Junmai Bronze
- Yukikage Junmai Commended
- Yukinobosha Yamahai Junmai Silver
- Kenbishi Commended (s.o.)
- Hanahato Kijoshu Gold
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Sake Day 2011 - SAVE THIS DATE - OCTOBER 1st
6th Annual Sake Day 2011: "A Toast To Recovery"
Mark your calendar! 6th annual Sake Day 2011 will be held on a
Saturday this year, and we will be drinking for a purpose! We are co-
sponsoring the event with the Japanese Cultural Community Center of
Northern California for the benefit of the relief and recovery efforts
for the horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. All of the proceeds
raised will go to support the
Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
WHEN: Saturday, October 1st, 4-8pm
WHERE: JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
WHAT: Over 100 sakes, Tohoku regional food, special brewers' tables,
unique tasting stations, silent auction of sake goodies, taiko
drumming performance, live music, and much more!
DETAILS: Call us at (415) 355-9555 or email info @ truesake.com.
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Sake Challenge - Sake vs. Vietnamese Food
I am on a spiritual sake quest that will finally put a nail in the
coffin of "sake can only be consumed at a sushi restaurant" mantra.
Wake up people! Food and sake go together - always have and always
will. If it has a tail, roots, feathers, leaves, or a damn beak sake
will go with it - anytime and any place. And that is my quest - the
place or origin of the cuisine does not matter. It can be Spanish,
Italian, Brazilian or ughhhh British chow and sake will walk the walk.
Japan has chickens! Japan has salad! Japan has beef! Japan has spicy
and savory dishes! Japan has sweet and salty fare, so why not think
about having sake with these "tones" from other countries?
The Sake Challenge is my way for you great consumers to see outside of
the sushi paradigm, and to achieve this "new view on brew" I will
usually select two different sake styles and price-points and bring
them to a non-Japanese restaurant with a celebrity, sake-sleuth or
hell even a friend in tow. Read about past challenges:
When reviewing restaurants and their specific cuisines paired with
sake I use the following criteria:
This criterion is more true to the mission of bringing a beverage to a
restaurant not knowing what you will pair with. The point is to make
the general pairings "work." Rare is the day that you bring a specific
wine or sake to pair with a specific dish - we look for generalities
and the entire eating/drinking experience. Think of fishing with a net
as opposed to a hook and line - a pairing is supposed to reach out and
catch more flavors as opposed to just hitting one match.
- Works World Class (WWC)
- Works Well (WW)
- Works (W)
- Does Not Work (DNW)
I'd like to try a new format for the Sake Challenge this month - a
more condensed version, as some folks have expressed that the original
format is pretty long. So I propose mentioning some of the pairings -
not all - without a sake by sake blow by blow, and a summary. Please
by all means comment on this effort or say something about the old
format if you so desire.
This month's Sake Challenge pits Japanese sake versus an Asian
counterpart in the form of Vietnamese cuisine. And if you are in SF
then the logical destination would be the Slanted Door.
"The Phan family opened the original
Slanted Door in 1995 on Valencia Street with a vision to blend
Vietnamese cooking technique with local ingredients." My tasting
partner from NYC was the well-versed Kazu Yamazaki, who is an importer
of sake for the Japan Prestige Sake International, and a veteran of
the Sake Challenge.
I decided to bring two unique sakes that Kazu imports and they were:
Here was the menu for the evening:
- Shirataki Jozen Junmai Ginjo "White"
More info »
- Otokoyama Junmai Genshu
See photo of this to the right:
- Crispy Imperial Rolls - with shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts.
- Wood Oven Roasted Manilla Clams - with Thai basil, crispy pork belly and fresh chilies.
- Soup - sweet Maine shrimp, pineapple, bean sprouts, taramind, toasted garlic.
- Hodo Soy Beanery Yuba - with glass noodles, parsnips, and maitake mushrooms.
- Stir Fried Organic Chicken - with ginko nuts, raisins, walnuts, and cashews.
The Crispy Imperial Rolls went extremely well with both sakes earning
Jozen White two sets of WW's and Otokoyama a WWC and a W's.
The Clams and the Otokoyama Genshu did a great WW dance as the
sweetness of the sake blended with the savory clams and the dash of
Likewise the Otokoyama did very well with soup. In fact it pulled a WW
and a WWC, and that was on account of the fact that the acidity of the
sake matched the acidity of the soup and the sweetness of the
pineapple and the shrimp jumped well with the profound sweetness of
The stir fried chicken was a tremendous success with both sakes. The
Jozen White acted like a tone-downer on the big flavors and cut them
very well making the dish and sake harmonize. It scored a W and a WW.
The Otokoyama excelled as well, especially with the sweet and savory
flavors of the raisins and nuts. It scored a WW and a WWC because it
rounded out the whole flavor game of the dish.
Well in a word the next time you go Vietnamese take a bottle of sake!
What a special tasting as both sakes, one full bodied and sweet with
huge acidity and the other light, dry and clean worked very well with
all the exotic flavors. There where 3 DNW's but that was offset by 7
WW's (Which could be a record) and 4 WWC's (which also could be a
record). The food itself was delicious and that made the pairings all
the better, as entire dishes worked as well as specific special flavor
pairings like the Otokoyama and raisins or the Jozen White with sweet
vinegar. I try to imagine what wine would work with this collection of
exotic flavors and I am at a loss, whereas both sakes did extremely
well as both dish complements and flavor washers. Good stuff!
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Sake Images - Photos From The Soul Of Sake
Please be a part of our "Sake Images" section by contributing your
very select sake related photographs. I'm not looking for a batch of
your pictures, rather I'd like to see one or two really powerful shots
that could be in a brewery or at your own home tasting or event.
Quality over quantity here people! And then write one or two sentences
(if you want) about the picture that we can share with the other
Please send these very specific and stellar photos to
info @ truesake.com with the subject line "Sake Images"
This month's Sake Image is from me. (Sorry!) I stumbled on this pic
when cleaning out some old shots. I would also like to apologize to
Carl Geenen who submitted last month's Image for misspelling his name.
This photo is from inside a rice "grading" warehouse in Yamagata
Prefecture, where farmers bring their brewing rice to get "valued" for
future sales. The "graders" use a pitched knife to stab random bags to
extract a portion of the rice. They place the rice sample in black
dishes then compare it to near perfect samples of the same rice
varietal. The warehouse workers then assign a grade to the rice on a
four tier grading system.
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Sake Events - Don't Miss the "Gasanryu" Tasting
September 20th - Meet the Brewer "Gasanryu" Tasting
Please welcome Masanobu Shindo, a super talented toji/owner of
Shindo Brewery from Yamagata. Due to March earthquake, he lost
tanks full of sake and dealt with damages to his brewery, but his
optimistic outlook on life keeps him going.
He will be pouring four of his delicious creations and sharing his
sake know-how. Join the conversation and ask him the meaning
WHEN: Tuesday, September 20th. 4-7pm
WHERE: True Sake
WHAT: Gasanryu Gokugetsu & Kisaragi, Ura Gasanryu Fuuka & Koka
HOW MUCH: FREE!
BONUS: 10% off your purchase of any of Mr. Shindo's sakes.
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Recent Sake Reviews
Yamaguchi Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.3 This
Daiginjo fits in between Dassai "50" and "23" in terms of milling
rates and is both similar and different to its sister brews. The
nose is fruity with koji rice, apple, honeydew, and strawberry
aromas. A very plush sake that is loaded with fruit basket flavors
and has a very wine-like acidity presence with a long finish.
Chewy, round, and soft, but bright - go figure! Hints of pear,
apple, blueberry and honeydew on a fleshy fluid that is lively and
velvety. "39" drinks almost nama-like and beware of fruit flies
who will surely find your glass within minutes. WORD: Velvet WINE:
Plump Reds/Smooth Whites BEER: Soft Ales FOODS: Clean fare,
elegant flavors, fruit salads, avocado salads, cheese plates.
From Fukui Prefecture. Nama Daiginjo. SMV: NA Acidity: NA This
living brew has a nose filled with pear, grape, peach, honey, and
ginger licks. Talk about a great summer sake that drinks tropical
fruity delicious. Smooth, round, clean and juicy this brew is
loaded with flavors so grab your shopping cart to tour the fruit
stand. Look for grape, berry, mango, and passion fruit hints that
slide on a semi-chewy flavor flow with a very gentle finish. Good
balance, good flavors, good feelings this Daiginjo nama walks the
summer walk. WORD: Tropical WINE: Round Reds/Bright Whites BEER:
Juicy Ales FOODS: Sushi/Sashimi, fruit salads, grilled veggies,
fried chicken. $48 (720ml)
Dewazakura "Mt. Cherry"
From Yamagata Prefecture. Daiginjo. SMV: +6 Acidity: 1.2 The
nose on this special sake from the award winning brewery is plump
with plum, berry, grape, peach and floral elements. A perfect
example of a wine drinker's sake - good fruit tones balanced with
a good acidity play. How can rice and water do this? Amazing dry
and fruity qualities to this sake. Look for juicy flavors
including honey, peach, pear, red apple and fruit compote. Then
there are dry flavors of apricot and steamed rice that balance out
the movement of this Daiginjo that drinks better in a larger
vessel. WORD: Fruity WINE: Fruity Reds/Fat Whites BEER: Belgian
Ales FOODS: Appetizer friendly, cheese plates, sushi/sashimi,
fruit plates. $66 (720ml)
Jokigen "Red Label"
From Yamagata Prefecture. Kimoto Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +2 Acidity:
1.7 Yeah for unique sakes! The aroma field on this traditionally
made brew is a quiver filled with woody, creamy, minty, buttery
and ricey arrows. A very chippy brew with layers of ripe fruit
elements on a bright and tingly fluid that drinks very raw like a
nama sake. Sweet and zesty look for grape, cherry, honeydew and
white peach flavors that bounce on a firm acidity with a long
finish that appeals to white wine drinkers. This brewery is known
for making unique products and that is so refreshing and fun in an
industry of breweries trying to make the same sake over and over.
Different is good. WORD: Zippy WINE: Deep Reds/Fruity Whites BEER:
Sweet Ales FOODS: Salty and savory, things on a stick or a grill,
cheese and fruit plates. $40 (720ml)
From Fukushima. Nama Junmai. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.6 This raw misty
sake has a very unique nose filled lemon yogurt, dried cherry, and
creamy aromas. A very good change of pace nama that does not fall
in line with the sweet, fruity, and acidic other brews. Naraman
drinks bright, tingly, and crisp and is semi-dry. There is a very
nice "shibumi" which is a gentle astringency that carries flavors
of unripe peach, crisp apple, and hints of fruit yogurt. There is
an abundance of rice tones that pushes the balance of the brew and
a mid-sized glass is best for crispness and flavor. A good nama
for those who like there sakes on the dry side. WORD: Dry WINE:
Crisp reds/Tight whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Salty and savory
fare, grilled everything, oysters in a vinaigrette. $35 (720ml)
From Yamagata Prefecture. Nama Tokubetsu Junmai. SMV: +3~+4
Acidity: 1.4~1.5 This unpasteurized sake has a raw nose filled
with honeydew, passion fruit, spring onion and mineral elements.
This is a very summery nama that drinks light, clean and fresh.
Semi-dry with hints of yellow apple, young pear and honeydew.
Ohyama drinks very balanced for a raw sake and there is a gentle
vein of minerals that runs through the entire sip. Smooth and easy
this brew speaks to those who want a conversation and not a
yelling match with their sake. A smaller glass pulls more acidity
and there is more flavor in a larger glass. This is relaxation
sake. WORD: Pear WINE: Gentle reds/Soft whites BEER: Light Beer
FOODS: Sushi/Sashimi, clean flavors, steamed fish, light veggies.
From Fukushima Prefecture. Junmai Nigori. SMV: -17 Acidity: 1.7
The nose on this unique red wine drinker's unfiltered sake is a
wonderful collection of marshmallow, powder sugar, sweet nuts and
cream aromas. This is not a bright, sweet, fruity nigori rather it
is a sake that would appeal to red wine fans who enjoy full-bodied
sakes that drink more rich than sweet. Smooth, creamy, plump and
round this brew has a rich personality pushing flavors such as
sweet nuts, dark honey, with a ping of cocoa. Rich and savory it
is quite complex for a "coarsely" filtered sake, and is very solid
in the palate. A good change of pace nigori. WORD: Rich WINE: Deep
Reds/Rich Whites BEER: Big ales. FOODS: Meal in a glass. $28
Umenishiki "Gorgeous Plum"
From Ehime Prefecture. Nama Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: +3.5 Acidity:
1.1 This is a great hot day unpasteurized sake that has a nose
filled with white peach, grape, pear, apple, and floral elements.
Talk about elegance in a raw sake. Light and dry but with a good
body this Daiginjo nama is smooth and fast on the palate. "Easy"
is too cheap of a descriptive, but why not as this brew is
controlled and compact and oh so quaffable. Mild licks of melon,
apple and dried plum rest on a brew that drinks more like a
pasteurized sake. There are very subtle creamy and rich points to
this brew, but the fruit comes forth in a larger glass. Light and
dry like a good summer laugh. WORD: Light WINE: Gentle Reds/Dry
Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Picnic Basket. $28 (500ml)
You can review many of our sakes on our web site.
Our inventory list is here.
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True Monthly Sake Club
This monthly sake club is available for those who are in California (and age 21 or over). True Sake Club can be a great gift subscription to your friend and family as well.
We try our best to send you something tasty, new, interesting and/or
exclusive along with our tasting notes. And we hope to grow our
offerings in near future.
- Monthly: 1 bottle
- Sake: 720ml Honjozo, Junmai, or Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo
- Price: Up to $30 + S&H + Tax
- Monthly: 2 bottles
- Sake: Combination of 720ml Honjozo, Junmai, Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo, or Junmai Daiginjo/Daiginjo
- Price: Up to $65 + S&H + Tax
- Selected sake is/are offered at a discounted price. Therefore, the order will not count toward the Frequent Buyer Program.
- Based on a selection, the price may differ slightly from month to month.
- Shipping & Handling (S&H) will be calculated based on the distance and the weight.
- UPS Ground service will be used for shipping. They will ask for an adult signature upon delivery.
- No return policy, but if your sake is missing or broken, please contact us immediately for a replacement.
We try to keep things simple. Your feedback is welcome.
- Shipping: 3rd Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday)
- Start Anytime: Email us at sakeclub @ truesake.com OR call us at (415) 355-955
- Switch Anytime: Tell us by the 1st Monday
- Cancel Anytime: Tell us by the 1st Monday
Please email the following information to
sakeclub @ truesake.com.
Upon receiving your request, we will contact you for your payment
- Your name as it appears on your credit card
- Shipping address
- Company name if shipping address is a business
- Billing address if it differs from the shipping address
- Your phone number
- Your email
- Your choice of: True Try or True Explore
If you would like to give this as a gift subscription, please specify:
- Length: 3 months or 6 months
- Recipient's name
- Recipient's address
- Recipient's phone number
Email: sakeclub @ truesake.com
Phone: (415) 355-9555
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"Ask Beau" - "So what is in your glass these days?"
I recently received an email from a self-described "wine guy" (John
R.) who is not only a wine educator but also owns a wine store in the
Midwest. As he put it:
"I get asked all the time what wines I drink
when I am not working. I think people do it to see what good wines
they should try. Using this logic I'll try it on you Mr. Timken. What
is in your glass these days?"
Et Tu Brute? (Said in my best dying Caesar voice!)
A very long time ago I coined the phrase - I drink a lot of bad sake
so you don't have to! This was an effort to show that I drink almost
anything and everything for the success of the store, and I do not
simply chug $120 bottles of over the top Junmai Daiginjo at home on my
time. Meaning my glass is always an experiment. It is always filled
with sakes that are trying to become a part of our inventory, sakes
that have grown a little too old for our store's standards, or sakes
that have been given to me by friends or associates to taste their
I also drink sakes that I need to become familiar with again. This re-
introduction is necessary for the reviews that we display for each
brew. With an inventory of over 200 sakes at any one time, it is
important that I pace or stagger my re-introductions. Rare is the day
that I say "Hmmmmm I feel like drinking (not tasting) this or that
sake." Even going to a party I will subordinate my own likes to bring
a sake that I can test on people to see how they receive it.
Likewise, when I go out to a restaurant I will order sakes that I have
not tasted for quite some time, or I will look to order a sake that I
know well to see if I can tell how long the bottle has been open for.
And of course if I have never tasted a particular sake, I will always
order that. Yes, I'm always on the job.
That said every now and again I feel the need to not
work/experiment/dabble with what is in my glass. I simply want to sip
a comfort sake, a brew that I have "grown up with." Thus to answer
your question specifically I will name some of sakes that on occasion
find themselves in my glass if the time is right and I have no work to
This is by no means my "faves" list of sakes. They are all like old
books that I enjoying re-reading. Each sake is unique and those
qualities speak to me.
- Ban Ryu Futsushu
- Gasanryu Honjozo
- Ichishima Honjozo
- Akitabare Honjozo
- Urakasumi Honjozo
- Takenotsuyu Junmai
- Sawanoi Kioke Junmai
- Sougen Junmai
- Hoyo Junmai
- Gokyo (Tanuki) Junmai
- Aramasa Junmai
- Koshinotousetsuka Junmai Ginjo
- Shoutendouji Junmai Ginjo
- Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo
- Kariho Junmai Ginjo
- Kouro Junmai Ginjo
- Kikuhime Daiginjo
- Taiheizan Junmai Daiginjo
- Kiminoi Junmai Daiginjo
- Shirataki Jozen Junmai Daiginjo
- Tomio Junmai Daiginjo
- Azen Ai Junmai Koshu
And finally a list of sakes that have been in my glass of late for one
reason or another:
Please send your sake specific questions to
askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This
address is not for general questions and I only review the questions
once per month. All other correspondence should use
info @ truesake.com.)
- Denshin Natsu Nama Daiginjo
- Harushika Umakuchi Yondan Junmai
- Bandai Junmai
- Hikami Masamune Tokubetsu Junmai
- Gokujyo Miyanoyuki Honjozo
- Yuki no Bosha Daiginjo dated 11.05 (my stash)
- Yuki no Bosha Junmai Daiginjo dated 11.05 (my stash)
- Kikuhime Kinken Junmai
- Soma no Tengu Muroka Nama Genshu
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The SECRET WORD
Ah, at last we have reached the end of this Newsletter and that of
course means that we have come to the now-famous SECRET WORD. To those
who are new the SECRET WORD is a chance for you to try a sake of note
for half of that sake's original price. Just for reading this
Newsletter. It is our way of saying thank you for trying to understand
the wonders of sake.
Please remember the rules: only one bottle per reader, and don't tell
your buddy at the moment if he/she isn't a Newsletter subscriber,
always use a hushed or secret agent voice when saying the SECRET WORD,
and lastly for those who have their sakes shipped we can only include
the SECRET WORD sake in a four-pack purchase - meaning you must buy
three other sakes.
This month we are featuring Otokoyama Kimoto Junmai in 900ml-a half of
Ishobin! The sake will normally sell for $31, but for you sake jockeys
we will part with this slight-larger-than-usual bottle for $18.
And the SECRET WORD is...check your email inbox -
We only give out the
SECRET WORD in the mailed Newsletter! So
sign up for the Newsletter!
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Thank you for reading!
It's taken the west quite some time to learn how to pronounce the word
sake. For decades we have been skiing - Saki! And only now are
learning to drag out the Kay at the end of the word - Sa-kay. But I
still default to the French accent as the most entertaining way of
saying Sake. Their pronunciation makes sake sound sexy, which of
course it is!
560 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA 94102
info @ truesake.com
Sake - A Modern Guide