“Our first principle is quality”
These are the strong, success-yielding words that Kizakura, the champions to the market of modern sake indulgers, firmly stand behind.
The origins of Kizakura date back to as far as 1925 in Kyoto, Japan. It is there, that the strong-willed attitudes and ever advancing mindsets of the skilful brewers began to carry them through the ages to come out the top guns that they are today. The brewers specialise in signature in-house sake spirits, as well as limited sakes and some craft beers too. On the night of the 19th of March however, I had come to Pong @ 1 Utama with only one goal ; to indulge in their signature craft - the Sakes.
The showcase was held at Pong in 1 Utama, located in the rainforest atrium of the shopping centre.
Leading the showcase that evening was special guest star; Mr Daiki Tojo San (a veteran of 11 years in the Sake industry, specialising in sales all over the Asian region). I was certainly pleased to know that the evening was going to be conducted in the grasp of such capable hands!
A little brief on sake before we get right into the good stuff. Sake is a Japanese rice wine that obtains its addictive yield from brown rice. The rice undergoes a polishing process and fermentation. Depending on the degree of polishing (between 70% to 35%) that the rice undergoes, the quality (and price subsequently) of sake produced follows suit.
Okay, now that we are all up to speed, let’s get right into it!
Starting with the Hana Ginjo Junmai ( instant crowd pleaser ) , the sake is bubbly and light as well as evidently sweet. It uses a special ferment in its mix to give it its’ signature flavour. Its’ mild nature makes it extremely flexible for whenever you may wish to consume it. A great kick off, especially to sake novices such as myself.
FUN FACT: The Hana Ginjo is Tojo San’s favourite of the five ! He told me that as it is a lady’s choice drink, it gets him quite far on his dating escapades. Not bad advice at all, Tojo San!
While primarily a sake tasting , there is an offset here , and that goes to the most intriguing hit Japanese liquor ; the plum wine. To the uninitiated , the plum wine has played a significant role as a Japanese aperitif for over 1000 years now , and has quickly been expanding its tasty influence across the modern world.
If you are looking for some relative similarity , think of it as Asia’s answer to dessert wines like Moscato.
Kizakura’s indulgent take; Torori Umeshu , hits all the right notes. It is sweet but rounded nicely with a slight tartness and a nutty after-taste , thanks to the nifty inclusion of almond. I heard it earned a special place in the heart of the ladies in attendance that night.
Left to right: “Karakuchi” , “Premium Junmai Yamadaishiki”, “Junmai Daijingo”
Fresh off the boat with the sweet and addictive ‘Hana Ginjo’, I noticed an immediate tartness amidst this dry sake. It took some adjusting to for my palette, but I would say that it is very neutral, and pairs easily with a wide variety of food.
TIP: drink chilled. It becomes extra acidic tasting at room temperature.
Premium Junmai Yamadaishiki
This sake is certainly the most unique of all the five ( technically four ) in presentation. The only of the lot to be served warm, it also uses the most expensive rice grains of the lot ( ‘premium’ indeed ) !
As it was being poured it struck me quite akin to how a hot tea would. The aromas were enticing and smelled a little like a hot peach tea even.
That being said, this sake is not for the faint of heart. One sip and it immediately hit me. Quality sips though!
Described as “flat and thin with vanilla”. My favourite flavour makes it no surprise that this sake takes my top spot!
In a way a medley of all the chilled sakes that came before; combining floral and sweet, yet slightly tart at the same time. The dryness of this sake is just right for me. Just my luck however, that this is the most expensive of the lot too. That, would be due to the fact that it takes a whopping 50,000 grains of brown rice to produce and a patient process of 4 WHOLE days. Still worth every cent, I would say.
Chicken Karage Bites
Salted Egg Tofu Bites
Homemade Pork Wantan
Throughout the course of the tasting , the tasters were treated to canapé intervals after the interaction of each sake.
Starting with the tomato bruschetta after the sweet ‘ Hana Ginjo ’ , I noticed that the slight acidity of the tomatoes went very well with the more easy going sake. The velvety glisten of margarine was also washed down nicely.
I experimented between both the ‘ Karakuchi ’ and ‘ Premium Yamadaishiki ’ with the chicken bites and the pork wantan. These more “serious” sakes, if you will, went very well with the heavier and heartier canapé . The dry tartness and the more intense flavours complimented the sinful bites nicely.
The salted egg tofu bites were, quite disappointingly , the most neutral tasting of the lot. However, I found that my favourite ‘ Junmai Daijingo ’ was the perfect pairing, as the tofu allowed its flavours and notes to fully immerse itself into my palette. The tofu , if anything , served as a sponge , to inject a subtle hint of saltiness to an already great array of flavour.
Being someone who natively enjoys gin and red wine , I certainly was not the biggest sake aficionado at the event’s start , but this tasting has definitely widened my horizons and changed my perspectives . Kizakura and Tojo San have done a great job on that front!
Many-a-time, I find that the best experiences slip by us unnoticed. I would not have been able to enjoy such an insightful (and delicious) evening had it not been empowered by Boozeat.
If you want quality but do not want to break the bank to indulge, stay in the loop and pay Boozeat a visit today!
Packed with an impressive array of alcohol, party food and exciting events ( such as this sake tasting ) , you are sure to find something to your fancy.
What’s more, Boozeat also retails the showcased products for a special event-only discount! No better time to stock up on your favourites right ? Pay less, drink better. And in the spirit of sake, Kampai!