Brand: Tamagawa, Ice Breaker / 玉川アイスブレーカー
Style: Junmai Ginjo, Unpasteurized,
Unfiltered, Undiluted / 分類: 純米吟醸無濾過生原酒
Rice Variety: Nihonbare (Shiga-Ken) / 原料米: 日本晴 (滋賀県)
Rice Polishing Ratio: 60% / 精米歩合: 60％
Alcohol: 17-18% / アルコール17-18％
So a few weeks ago I was a bit critical about the branding of an otherwise fantastic Sake from Nagano Prefecture. Therefore, I wanted to start the week off on a more positive note this time by introducing some branding that I absolutely love from the good people at Tamagawa in northern Kyoto Prefecture.
Ice Breaker is one of many Summer Edition Sakes 夏酒 that are hitting the shelfs right now in Japan, just as the weather is starting to really heat up here. The brand is probably most famous in Japan for the two adorable penguins that adorn the label. However, English speakers will know that the name is of course a very clever reference to the role that Sake can play in, well, breaking the ice in conversation.
Although I do like traditional labeling from time to time as well, I think they have got the branding of Ice Breaker absolutely spot-on. It’s bright, cheerful and perfectly suits the image of a summer release, whilst also managing to have a clever title at the same time. Also, a nice little fun fact to know is that the colour of the bottle is known in the industry as Sake Blue 青酒.
But is Ice Breaker all clever branding with no substance? Well, I’ve never made any secret of my admiration for Tamagawa Sake, but despite this slight bias I can genuinely say that this is a solid example of a Junmai Ginjo. Furthermore, it perfectly serves the role of what it was intended for, and even comes with a recommendation from the brewer to try it on the rocks! Now, the idea of putting ice into the same glass as Nihonshu is about as dreaded a deed to Sake purists as is doing the same thing with single malt whisky to a Scottish person. As I am both Scottish and a Sake purist I did find it difficult to go ahead and actually try this. In the end, I compromised and opted for just one cube in a glass that holds about 90ml.
Although I won’t be serving all my Sake like this from now on, I would definitely say give it a try, IF, you are drinking it in a hot environment. The low temperature, and the slight dilution from the ice takes away some of the body of the Sake. However, it’s so well made that it retains its beautiful Tamagawa character whilst mellowing out a Sake that actually has a pretty hefty alcohol content to start with. It’s not groundbreaking and supremely complex like some of the other Tamagawa products, rather, it’s just a good solid, well made Ginjo that will keep you cool in the summer, and if needed, will definitely help you break the ice!