I know near to nothing about saké. I never review it. But secretly, this wine geek loves it. Every time I drink it, regardless of quality, it fascinates.
Saké is not beer, but it is brewed grains. Saké is not wine, but alcohols also average in the tweens. Truly, any comparisons fall apart. For saké is uniquely Japanese: like Kimonos, matcha green tea, or Godzilla…taking a tea (?) break between destroying cities:
At sake’s core is rice, water, and a combo attack of mold and yeast. After different polishing levels have removed outer proteins, oils, and nasty congeners, the starchy core rests, then gets steeped, followed by a dual ferment with mold (Aspergillus oryzae) and yeast (wine’s old friend: Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Things get increasingly complicated: fancy saké ferments cool, volume is expanded with staggered additions of water and rice, carbon filtering, multiple pasturizations, a rest, final watering down to 15%, and aging….and breath.
This Thirsty Thursday’s saké comes from the Nara Prefecture:
Appropriately, today’s saké, Harushika, translates into Spring Deer (founded in 1884). This is its Daiginjo grade, the highest level, which means 50% of the grain has been polished away, leaving only the sexy, starchy core behind.
Aromas: Complexity is an overused word, but not here. Light honey, lychee, and melon aromas play off bold fennel, aniseed, and caramel.
Palate: Perfectly synced medium sweetness lines up with refreshing acidity, coupled with an intense, eye-widening, palate seeking, clean alcohol that fills and warms the palate. The body feels medium plus. The texture is creamy.
Flavors: all-encompassing lychee, white honey, marzipan, sweet rice, rose petals. Insanely complex, long, yet not overpowering.
Conclusions: Indirectly, Harushika’s Daiginjo reminds me of a fantastic Hefeweizen or Gewurztraminer: equally refreshing as it is showy and demanding. Its quality, in my uneducated opinion, is outstanding (5 of 5). So is the price: starting at $55. But perfection has no price.