On my recent trip to Oita prefecture, I went into a local liquor shop and asked for the most “Oita” sake they had, and this is what was recommended. Nishinoseki, from Kayashima Shuzo in eastern Oita, is apparently the top-selling sake brand in the prefecture, and can be found all over the place in northern Kyushu. They have a lot of different styles, but I went for this one because 1.) the bottle is gorgeous, and 2) it’s a tobingakoi.
Sake suffers from a bottle deficiency problem, in my opinion. Shochu bottles are all shapes, colors, and sizes, but sake tends to be either brown, green, or clear, and all those kind of elongated bottles. So whenever I see sake in a uniquely shaped bottle, I immediately take notice. This is a lovely frosted green square bottle, and it is boxed to mitigate the light damage that green bottles can sometimes allow.
This sake is labeled tekishu 滴酒 which is another word for tobingakoi, fukuruzuri, and so on–this sake was not pressed but allowed to drip naturally from the mash suspended in cotton bags. Such sakes are always something special, when compared to regularly pressed ones, and of course this was no different.
This particular drink was big and bold. It tended toward the dry end, with the aromas of muscat grape and peach that were overshadowed by bold umami that finished with delicate sourness on the back end.
I drank this sake with a bacon, jalapeno, and tomato pizza, and it was great. The big flavor of the pizza balanced with the big flavor of the sake; neither overwhelmed the other, and the umami elements seemed to echo off each other. It works, folks!