In the run-up to New Year’s day, a big Japanese tradition is the “bounenkai,” a party to put paid to the year’s stress and frustration. They’re common among work teams, circles of friends, and even neighborhoods. We ourselves hosted a small bounenkai with some friends, and I of course took it as a chance to bring out some of my backlog. We went through 6 or 7 sakes, but I’ll just be giving a look at a few in this post and the next one.
We started with a reliable standard: Gokyo Junmai, made with 100% locally grown rice with a seimaibuai of 60%. It was a very ricey brew, with a strong dose of rich caramel sweetness. A solid, od fashioned sake that was easy to drink. It was a good way to get the party going.
This was a bottle I picked up last summer. It’s an origarami, meaning it’s cloudy but not thick like a full nigori (sasanigori means “kind of cloudy”). Being racked from the bottom of the tank means this sake is in long contact with the residual lees and pick up a lot of umami from the rice. It’s a very savory, assertive sake with almost no sweetness and just a little sourness. My Czech beer-drinking friend was a bigger fan than I.
This was my first Kinsuzume sake, and it was a nice one. A Hiyaoroshi tokubestu junmai, this sake was brewed in March and bottled in the fall, giving it some time to mature before being filtered and shipped. This results in a full bodied brew with a mild melon aroma and strong umami. It has a strong sour punch at the end, for a refreshing palate cleanse.
All in all, these three were fine sakes and the crowd enjoyed them. But at the same time, they didn’t really kick up a fuss–they’re good, but not spectacular. Of course, these are all very reasonably prices sakes, as well, so the cost performance is quite good.
Next post, though, I’ll put up the spectacular ones.