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February 19, 2016

Daishichi Sake (2) - Yukishibori Honjozo Nigorizake

Besides the Yukishibori Honjozo Namagenshu, Daishichi has one more seasonal sake for the winter season: Yukishibori Honjozo Nigorizake.

Yukishibori Honjozo Nigorizake is Daishichi's only "nigori" or "cloudy sake," a sake which during pressing has been passed through a wide mesh so that the sake is not transparent as usual, but contains a "milky" or "cloudy" sediment of fine rice particles. This settles on the bottom of the bottle during storage, and as you want it in your glass (in contrast to sediment in wine) as the cloudiness is the whole point of this sake, you should gently turn the bottle a few times up and down so that the cloudiness is evenly divided before pouring.

The sediment in fact not only contains rice particles, but also koji and yeast. The rice particles are good for the very distinctive physical texture, and the koji and yeast provide a particular and powerful flavor. The rice particles vary in size depending on the brewery (from very fine to large chunks of whole rice grains). Most nigorizake is relatively sweet.

Daishichi's Nigorizake contains only very fine rice particles. Like the Yukishibori Namagenshu it is a honjozo (premium sake with a small amount of pure alcohol added to make the taste lighter), but instead of being "nama" (unpasteurized) it is a Nama Chozoshu, a sake that was stored unpasteurized and heated only once before shipping. In other words, it is a "semi-namazake," or "semi unpasteurized sake." Thanks to the unpasteurized storage, this Yukishibori has another interesting characteristic: it contains small bubbles, a fizz which has been caused by a second fermentation in the bottle (during storage).

Sparkling sake is popular both in Japan and abroad - it is a refreshing drink for on the beach or at garden parties - but Daishichi's bubbles are refined and small, just enough to add some spice to the taste and to provide a counterweight to the general sweetness of a nigorizake. The result is a unique "cloudy" sake with a light fizz. And of course this sake has also been made with the kimoto method (Daishichi is Japan's No. 1 Kimoto brewer), which means it has a rich taste. The alcohol percentage is 14.5%.

Yukishobori Honjozo Nigorizake was first made in 1994 and its name "Pressed in the Snow" has the same origin as that of its "elder brother," Yukishibori Honjozo Namagenshu.

Serve very cool at 8 degrees Celsius and keep the bottle on the table in a wine cooler. The gentle aroma and slight fizz stimulate the appetite. Drink as an aperitif, with light starter dishes, or with a dessert of fruits like melon, peach and pear. And in case of Western food, it fits to saut├ęs or spicy dishes. Note that like the unpasteurized and undiluted Yukishibori, this sake is only sold in winter.

Disclosure: the blog author Ad Blankestijn works for the Daishichi Sake Brewery. He is also an accredited sake sommelier and sake instructor. 
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