Winter's Moon 冬の月
Classification: Junmai Ginjo
Specification: Muroka Nama Genshu
Rice Variety: Akihikari
Yeast Type: Hakuto (White Peach)
Time to introduce another great Sake from Okayama Prefecture, this time coming from Kamikokoro Shuzo 嘉美心酒造株式会社 in Asakuchi. Aside from the absolutely stunning label, there are a few interesting features to this Sake.
Firstly, Winter’s Moon belongs to the Junmai Ginjo class and is unfiltered, undiluted and unpasteurized (純米吟醸無濾過生原酒). Nothing particularly special in today’s market. However, it was brewed using the yeast discovered in the trees growing Okayama’s famous White Peaches 白桃酵母. I’m not usually one for Wine and Sake comparisons, but how’s that for a bit of Terroir!
Winter’s Moon is also quite a sweet Sake, with a Nihonshu-do value of -3 (日本酒度). As a chilled Nama, it certainly has that typical creamy, slightly fruity quality. However, it’s a touch bitter or astringent at this temperate for me personally. Fear not though because, as is fitting for the label, this Sake makes a great candidate for warming (燗酒). I heated it to just above 40.C, otherwise known as Nuru-kan in Japanese.
At this temperature, the bitterness is replaced by a lovely smooth Umami texture with an almost creme brûlée nose. As it cools down, it finds its sweet-spot at around 35.C, the wonderfully named Hitohada-kan, or literally “the temperature of skin”. Here we get a superb balance between the sweet and sour components, whilst maintaining the slightly fruity aromas. A perfect tipple during this bitterly cold winter that has now begun in Japan.
*** As a last little interesting piece of information about this Sake, there are actually two different label designs. Around 1 in every 120 bottles produced will feature a special Full Moon (満月) design label instead of the standard crest ***