On February 23rd, we hosted a goodbye party for a friend moving to Fukuoka, and I prepared a whole range of sakes to help celebrate. However, my plan was thrown slightly awry when a friend showed up with a whole isshobin (1.8 liters) of Suobijin! We stepped up to the challenge and killed it, but of course had to reduce the variety a bit so we didn’t all pass out.
We did manage to work in a bottle of Ohmine Shuzo’s Yukionna that I’d been saving for the date. Yukionna is a junmai nigori sake. Nigori indicates that there is still a small amount of sake lees in the bottle, giving it a cloudy look (which is what “nigori” means). This often emphasizes an underlying flavor element–karakuchi sakes will have a bigger hit of umami and punch, while amakuchi will be sweeter and rounder.
This sake was definitely amakuchi. It had the usual Ohmine muscat grape aroma with a big melony sweetness, which was filled out with a barely-noticeable umami that gave the drink overall the taste and mouthfeel of a very high quality juice. The drinkers included a white-wine fan, a Czech beer lover, and me, the sake nut, and everyone agreed: this was a fantastic drink.
The sweetness didn’t cloy, it went down smooth and easy and didn’t linger overlong. It didn’t clash with richly flavored foods like pizza or sausage, either. The bottle did not survive long after opening, and my Czech friend said he was going to go buy himself one when he gets to his new home in Fukuoka.
This sake is also very mildly carbonated. Not so much that it fizzes when you pour or anything, but the stopper popped when I opened it, and it tingled on the tongue a bit. It was actually quite pleasant, although I can’t say I’m a fan of “sparkling sake” in general.
I should also mention the gorgeous illustration by artist Misaki Tanaka. He pictures are all a very interesting mix of cute and sexy, and this drawing of the Yukionna “Snow Woman” really is perfect for the drink.