427:Dassai Junmai Ginjo Atatamezake(Yamaguchi Prefecture)
"There is a Dassai that's just for warmed sake" said the manager as I stepped through izakaya H's shop curtain. "Interesting. Warm some for me," I replied.
I knew that the sake was in the refrigerator, along with a few new bottles. There were some sake that I'd never seen before, so I prioritized those and put the Dassai off for another time. That's because I usually try only one kind of sake at izakaya H. I enjoy one "go" (180ml) chilled, and one "go" slightly warmed.
On a later date, I visit izakaya "H" to have a go at the Dassai.
Sakekaeru: "Please give me some of the Dassai that's for drinking warmed."
Manager: "It's all gone."
Sakekaeru: "What!!!??? It just came in. Why?"
Manager: " K-san drank it."
Sakekaeru: "Ugh... Please order it again."
Manager: "Yes, I will."
I can't believe it. izakaya H doesn't have a huge clientele, and the sake is usually consumed gradually. I assumed that it would be fine to delay drinking the "Dassai." This is an unexpected ambush. That K-san drank it all. And just the night before. K-san is a member of the sake research club that I preside over. We often have our after party at izakaya H. In other words, K-san is like family. If family drank it, I guess there's nothing I can do.
After some time, the manager calls me to say "The Dassai for warm sake has arrived," so I go to have my long-awaited sake.
The label on the bottle clearly indicates that the sake should be warmed. I sometimes see sake make specifically for warming, but it's rare to see it for a high brand sake like "Dassai." The label states as follows.
"For warmed sake. Please drink at about 40 degrees Celcius. On September 9 of the lunar calendar (mid-October) is Choyo no Sekku (Chrysanthemum Festival) and as the weather gets colder, on this day, it is said that if you drink warmed sake with a chrysanthemum flower in it, you will be in good health for the season. To optimize the flavors when warmed, this ginjoshu has been aged one year with great care to give this sake roundness and fullness. Please enjoy this sake to the full."
Now, for my comments. When I try a sake, I usually have it chilled first, then warmed. This sake is brewed to be warmed so I guess I should drink it warmed from the start but, seeing the label so clearly indicating that, I want to rebel. Therefore, as always, I begin with it chilled.
Sakekaeru: "It's sweet and smooth. Nice. Acidic too. It has the complex DNA of a Dassai. It's supposed to be warmed, but it's actually quite nice chilled."
Manager: "Yes. It's quite good chilled. The acidity is quite clear."
Sakekaeru: "The acidity is really potent. The umami of the rice is also very strong. It's sweet and sour."
Manager: "Yes, sweet and sour."
Sakekaeru: "It feels thick and smooth. Nice. As expected from Dassai, it's really well made. It's a ginjo but the aromas are restrained."
Now I take it slightly warmed. I often request warmed sake at izakaya H, and the manager has gotten skilled at heating it to the temperature I request. I drink it slightly warmed, at exactly 40 degrees.
Sakekaeru: "Ahh, delicious! The umami and acidity hit you at the same time. Soft, delicate, smooth. The umami is full and round."
Manager: "It's stable. Grounded. Sour. It's good. Mmm, really good."
Sakekaeru: "Mmm! This is great. I understand why it's specifically for warmed sake. Look at the label, the alcohol content is 14%."
This is a small discovery. The sake has been modified so that it's softer when warmed. When slightly warmed this sake has a soft and light touch and the umami expands, giving the sake a gentle and comforting taste, and the alcohol content has been altered to create those changes.
As I present my reasoning, the manager gently nods his head and says, "I see."
A former journalist for a local newspaper agency. Registered domicile, address, age: Unknown. He likes to drink sake that he has never tried before. Usually keeps a sake warmer at his favored izakaya restaurant. He believes that saying "I will start with a beer" at a drinking party is disrespectful to beer and sake, so it should start with sake. He prefers rich sake with a sour taste. Each year, he drinks over 500 different kinds of sake.