Category Archives: saké
Oct. 1 is Sake Day (Google it, I’m not making this up!) and this year’s is particularly meaningful for me. It’s the first one I get to celebrate as a Certified International Kikisake-shi (Master of Sake/sommelier) from the Sake School of America. I’m also in the middle of writing my fourth book, tentatively titled Sakepedia, which comes out next fall. To tide everyone over until then, read this piece on sake myths vs. facts that I recently wrote for SevenFifty Daily.
It’s the first “very special episode” of The Drinkable Week. (Grab the tissues and don’t do drugs, kids.) This week, I’m in Tokyo and in the Kagoshima and Kumamoto Prefectures experiencing shochu, the treasured spirit of the southern island of Kyushu. The itinerary, very generously organized by the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association (JSS), included tours of six distilleries and more bars than I can count (and so much amazing food!) Extra special thanks to JSS’s Ken Kajihara and Kampai.US’s Stephen Lyman for pulling this grand adventure together.
We’re excited to present the inaugural edition of The Drinkable Week, hosted by Jeff Cioletti, founder of The Drinkable Globe and author of the upcoming book, The Year of Drinking Adventurously. We kick off our weekly drinking news show with a few thoughts on Steven Soderbergh’s Singani 63, Cachaça and saké. We’d love to hear your feedback here or on Twitter at @JeffCioletti and @DrinkableGlobe
Kumamoto, on the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu, has an enormously popular mascot, Kumamon—so popular that he inspired a local watering hole, KumaBar.
After a bit of a hiatus, the video featurettes (vide-ettes?) return with the first of several shot in Japan. Ever drink saké with fish parts in it? Unless you accidentally dropped a piece of sashimi in your cup (happens to the best of us), the answer is “probably not.” A tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Osaka serves up a hot saké with a very curious (and surprisingly not deadly) ingredient. Give it a watch; it only takes a minute.
The thing about Portland, Oregon, is that most thirsty pilgrims heading there are after one thing: beer—myself included, admittedly. But you’d be seriously short-changing yourself if you didn’t take a ride about 25 minutes outside the city to Forest Grove and visit one of only a handful of saké breweries on U.S. soil (I think, there might be seven or eight at last count—a far cry from the 2,300-plus beer breweries in the U.S. and 7,000 or so wineries).
SakéOne started out as an importer in 1992—a JV with Japan’s Momokawa Brewing—but became a producer 15 years ago. It’s best known for its Momokawa line, an homage to the partner that helped it get started.
If you’ve been on a lot of beer brewery tours, you get to a point where they all start to sound the same and you just want to get to the tasting portion of the afternoon. It’s not their fault. They have to tailor the tour to those who have little or no knowledge of brewing.
But unless you’ve traveled extensively in Japan, it’s not likely you’ve toured too many saké breweries. Sure, much of the equipment looks like a lot of the same stuff you’d find in a beer brewery, but I guarantee you haven’t seen a rice mill that polishes the grains down to the requisite percentages for junmai, junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo.
Okay, you can admit it. It’s really all about the tasting room. Lucky for you, SakéOne’s got one of those (with plenty of saké sets and related gifts for sale. Visitors get to choose from among three reasonably priced flights. The Kura Flight, which costs $3 per person and features samples of four sakés. The Toji Flight, at $5 per person, includes everything in the Kura sampling, plus two additional reserves (including imports). Finally there’s Saké Shock, which pairs five sakes with small bites of food for $10.
When the weather’s good—which is not too often the case in Oregon—sit at a table on the outdoor patio and enjoy a bottle or three you just bought in the gift shop. We were lucky enough to be there in July when it’s generally pretty pleasant. Can’t vouch for the rest of the year though.