The sakes that I selected for Sake Gumi this month are all premium versions of popular sakes that we carry in Oakland. Each and every bottle on the shelves of our Bottle System in Oakland is hand-selected after tasting and deliberation. It has to be approved by Kayoko, Chris, and me. Between the three of us, we represent different sake palates, preferences for food, and aesthetics. So when a sake is approved by all three of us, it means that the sake has passed a pretty strict test. We often put past Sake Gumi offerings on the shelves too, after you've all told us you liked a particular sake!
As a special end-of-the-year treat, we thought it would be fitting to offer fancier versions of the sakes we already love and customers keep coming back for in the store. I’ve put together a chart to compare our in-store offerings vs. your bottles this month.
This is the third holiday season for Sake Gumi and we continue the tradition of including a daiginjo at both levels in the month of December. They don't call it the "most wonderful time of the year" for nothing. Happy holidays and see you in 2018!
LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)
Hana-Kohaku Junmai Ginjo Umeshu
Tatsuuma-Honke Brewing Co.,Ltd. (Hyogo, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%, SMV: -57
People always comment on the Hakushika Tanuki sake in our store. We offer it in the one-cup and 3-liter formats. In addition to making solid, versatile junmais, Hakushika makes this delicately sweet, appley umeshu that makes a great aperitif or digestif. Drink it straight chilled, or make it an Umeshu Highball by combining 3 oz umeshu and 6 oz sparkling water over ice, in a highball glass. I personally love umeshu and hope this satisfies some of the requests from members who want sweeter sakes. Keep the feedback coming!
Tamano Hikari Junmai Daiginjo Bizen Omachi
Tamano Hikari Brewery (Kyoto, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 50%, SMV: +3.5
Our holiday gift to Level 1 members every December is a bottle of daiginjo. With a lavish gold label, this sake announces itself as a luxurious sake. This supple daiginjo is made from Bizen-Omachi rice which yields sake that has a large bandwidth of flavors ranging from pears and bananas to cashews. Enjoy the rich flavors and clean finish chilled alongside steamed crab or roasted cauliflower.
LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)
Suigei Junmai Ginjo Ginrei
Suigei Brewery (Kochi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 50%, SMV: +6.7
Suigei "Drunken Whale" Tokubetsu Junmai inaugurated Sake Gumi. It is also the top seller at our shop in Oakland. It took three months to get this junmai ginjo version for Sake Gumi! With the signature ricey, umami flavor that you'd expect from Suigei, this junmai ginjo also has a hint of apple tart on the nose from the ginjo yeast. A finish so clean and quenching will have you asking for seconds and thirds. Have it chilled with raw oysters, steamed mussels or vegetables.
Naraman Junmai Daiginjo
Yumegokoro Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Fukushima, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 48%, SMV: +3
Opening a bottle of Naraman sake means it's the start of a raucous time. Naraman's sakes are always full of personality and punch. Like the bold and yogurty Naraman Junmai that kicked off our annual Camino Sake dinner this year, this Naraman Junmai Daiginjo announces itself with a swagger. This sake is both grainy and herbal on the nose and has flavors reminiscent of an earthy awamori (shochu made from long grain rice). With an unexpected sharp ending for a daiginjo, this sake is best paired chilled with rich, oily foods like steak or Japanese curry. Avoid lighterfare like sushi or steamed vegetables.