Hakubotan Honjozo – Tasting

Hakubotan 白牡丹 from Hiroshima
Hakubotan 白牡丹 from Hiroshima





I picked this little beauty up at a local shop based on the label design alone. Isn’t it pretty?

This is a honjozo, meaning it’s made with a 60% milling ratio like a Ginjo, but also includes some brewer’s alcohol in the process, as opposed to a junmai. This is actually kind of a weird issue. A lot of people look on the use of brewer’s alcohol as a kind of impurity in the sake, but there are good, valid reasons for its use in many instances. Sure, some (a lot?) of the cheaper shelf sakes use it to increase yields and thus reduce costs, but some very good sakes are made with added alcohol as it can release certain flavor profiles in fermentation that might not normally be found.

This definitely falls into the latter category. This was a wonderful drink, rich and smooth, with a mellow aftertaste and no unpleasant alcohol harshness. It has a sweetness similar to ginjo, but with more complexity and umami than most I’ve tried. I’d be more than happy with another bottle someday.


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