Modern sake markets are all too often focused on the premium side. Junmai, ginjo, koshu-all of these styles command high prices and are marketed to more elevated customers. But the fact remains: futsushu is far and away the market leader in Japan. It is often looked down upon as something inferior, but in many ways the sake world is built upon it.
Now, to be honest, there is a lot of futsushu that is simply not very good. The bad old days of Sanbaizoshu (the “Tripled” sake brewing that began during the war that added a variety of elements to replace rice in the brewing) are over, but there are still futsushu made with added sugar and overwhelming amounts of added brewer’s alcohol.
But they don’t have to be…
Gokyo is a local legend, perhaps the most “Yamaguchi” of local breweries. They have won gold at the Annual Sake Awards out of almost every year in the last ten, proving their premium chops are as good as any. Even this, their cheapest, and least sophisticated brew, is made only with locally grown rice and no added sugars or enzymes.
The result? A pleasant, perfectly enjoyable table sake. It’s not one of your fruity, aromatic ginjos or nutty koshus, but it has a smooth, rich mouthfeel and a great depth. It doesn’t overpower meals or cloy, and at 180 yen (about US$1.50) a cup it’s in easy reach on even the brokest of days.