Bijofu Ginjo Rei (Tama Label)
By Hamakawa Shoten
In today's modern marketplace, so awash with delicious and fantastically crafted sake, it is genuinely hard to decide on a favourite brand. However, I've always maintained that having some sort of affinity to a particular brewery, or perhaps even a region, can be that all-important x-factor that determines our own individual preferences. It could be the first sake you tried that really caught your attention and made you take notice of the wonders of this fabulous beverage. Or perhaps you have fond memories of celebrating a special occasion whilst enjoying a particular bottle... Whatever the reason may be, these little moments tend to be what resonate with us the most, and can often be the difference between simply liking a particular sake and truly adoring it.
For me personally, the makers of tonight's sake definitely has that x-factor in abundance. Not only are they responsible for brewing one of the brands that helped me on my journey towards a career in sake, but I also have a strong affinity to the remote region of Kochi where it was made. This started about 5 years ago now when I rather foolishly decided to walk and cycle the entire route of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage 四国八十八個所 in the midst of Japan's brutal summer heat. Broken and dejected after torrential rain and a typhoon had tormented me during my time in Tokushima, I finally crossed the prefectural border into Kochi and was left gobsmacked by its stunning natural beauty. Sprawling forests, crystal clear rivers, and a rugged coastline that has to be seen to be truly appreciated left me with fond memories for the region that I will never forget.
It is amongst this stunning natural backdrop that this Bijofu Junmai Ginjo was created, and the bounty of natural resources of the region are definitely reflected in the final sake. Brewed using the ultra-soft water 超軟水 from the nearby Nahari River, Junrei Tama Label is a light and elegant sake that has an almost watery taste at first contact. This quickly expands into a smooth citrusy taste with a sharp, slightly dry and clean finish. Brewed from Matsuyama Mii rice 松山三井 cultivated in neighbouring Ehime prefecture, the word best used to summarise this sake is focussed. It is uncomplicated, yet it's wonderful pronounced aroma of oranges and clean taste is testament to the fine craftsmanship of the brewers who have created such balance and harmony between the rice, water and yeast. Truly superb sake to compliment one of Japan's most captivating and beautiful prefectures, even if I am just a touch biased.
Brand: Bijofu (Handsome Man) / 銘柄: 美丈夫
Spec: Junmai Ginjo / 分類: 純米吟醸
Rice Variety: 原料米：愛媛県の松山三井
Polishing Ratio / 精米歩合: 55%