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Last week's sake lecture/tasting at the Japan Society (and Oms/b)

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Last week's sake lecture/tasting at the Japan Society (and Oms/b)

Rachel M. | Nov 12, 2003 02:11 PM

Bit late in the posting, but... Last Thursday's sake lecture and tasting at the Japan Society was really enjoyable, both in terms of the lecture and tasting. While John Gauntner gave the introduction, the main part of the lecture was by Robert Yellin, an expert on Japanese pottery, focusing on sake flasks (tokkuri) and cups (ochoko, or guinomi). He went through the various shapes of the cups/flasks, and through several schools of pottery; given the shortness of the lecture, I think it may not have been the most useful lecture for people who aren't very familiar with Japanese pottery (although perhaps most people at the Japan Society are).

Anyway, on to the booze. Since the Sake Export Association was involved with the lecture, there was sake available from 11 brewers, all members of the association. Most brewers had two or three types available.

In order, my favorite brewers were 1) Fukucho: the Daiginjo Tobinkakoi Shizuku was a really lovely, classic daiginjo with very nice aroma and flavor, and I was glad I hit that one first as it ran out quickly; 2) Dassai: the "Migaku Niwari Sanbu", a junmai daiginjo, apparently has the highest milling ratio for the rice of any sake in Japan, and that's reflected in the aroma; and 3) Gassan's "Ougi Daiginjo". I'm not normally a huge daiginjo fan, mainly because I like to eat and drink at the same time, and the daiginjos get overpowered quite easily by food, but with no food around except edamame, they were very enjoyable.

I was also really pleasantly surprised by the sake put out by Sudo Honke under various names ("Sato no Homare", "Kakunko"), as I hadn't remembered their sake as being so good. John Gauntner mentioned that this brewery is doing some really interesting stuff with brewing and rice-growing, with the aim of making a product that other firms can't.

Unfortunately my three favorites are all unavailable in the States! But at least I got to enjoy some good sake. There were representatives of each brewery there, and I enjoyed getting to talk to them about their products. In particular, I was really excited to speak to Miho Imada, the toji (master brewer) of Fukucho, since there are so few women master brewers in Japan.

Apparently this lecture sells out every year, but you can get yourself put on the Japan Society's mailing lists to be notified early.

I stopped by Oms/b on the way to the lecture; since we always started off sake tasting classes in Tokyo with a few rice balls and a cup of tea, I figured it wouldn't impact my tasting too much. I stuck to the traditional side--ume and hijiki--but both were very good. Their tea is not cheap, but they brew it in a pot from loose leaves, rather than a tea bag. I'll definitely go back again, particularly since I want to try out their desserts!

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