By Imada Shuzo, Hiroshima Prefecture
In a market place that is dominated by so-called "kirei" varieties, I have never made any secret of my preference towards somewhat unorthodox sake. Somehow I always seem to gravitate towards these more complex, dare I even say, more interesting examples that are often produced in a way that imparts a certain je ne sais quoi to the final flavour profile.
Tonight's sake from Imada Shuzo in Akitsu, Hiroshima prefecture definitely fits the above description and was brewed to compliment the abundance of delicious seafood that this region of Japan is famous for. Nestled on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, Akitsu is particulally famous for Oysters, which is specifically what the master brewer behind the sake had in mind when she first decided on the brand.
But what exactly is unorthodox about Seafood, and more importantly, what does this mean for the final outcome of the sake. Well, put succintely, it was brewed using White Koji 白麹 rather than the standard Yellow Koji 黄色麹 that is the norm in sake production. This has resulted in a wonderful sharp but balanced acidity that is perfect for cutting through the saltiness of the Oysters that Imada San originally had in mind.
However, there is so much more to this sake that just nice acidity, and it displays unique qualities at a number of different temperatures. For example, when chilled it oozes quality as it's subtle aromas of citrus hint that there is much more to come. In a nice wine glass, it makes a perfect refreshing aperitif that would be great to pair with raw oysters over ice.
As it approaches room temperature it takes on a more minerraly fuller bodied profile which perfectly matched the hot Oyster Nabe that I paired it with. I tend to avoid sake and wine conparisons, but it really does remind me of one of those great sharp whites that just seems to be tailor made for pairing with seafood. It also seems likely that the French judges of the annual Kura Master competition also recognised this quality as they awarded it a Platinum medal at this year's competition, placing it in the top-ten in the Junmai category.
As much as I could wax lyrical all night about how great this sake tastes, I feel I should also dedicate some of this post to the fantastic job that has been done on its branding. For starters, the label features a clever double-sided design that, when peered at through the bottle, makes the various types of seafood seem like they are underwater. A nice quirk in my opinion at least.
However, the Japanese Kanji characters that adorn the label are the icing on the cake, despite the fact that they aren't exactly a perfect fit for what they are trying to acheive. It reads 海 meaning Sea, 風 meaning style and 土 meaning earth. Those versed in Kanji will no doubt have worked out that one possible reading for the last two of these characters is Fu and Do. And therefore combined it reads Sea-fu-do. Gotta love the effort if nothing else....
As always though, the most important thing remains the sake inside the bottle, and make no mistake, this is a sake of the highest quality. It fits its original remit perfectly, yet it shouldn't be simply confined to the role of supporting oysters, as delicious a pairing as they may be. Instead, this is yet another example of a sake that showcases the versatility and potential of this wonderful beverage.
Brand: Fukucho / 銘柄: 富久長
Polishing Ratio / 精米歩合 : 70%
Alcohol Content / アルコール分 : 13% (Undiluted, 原酒)