By Kinoshita Shuzo, Kyoto Prefecture
Every New Years in Japan, retail stores across the nation prepare for the onslaught of customers ready to grab a Fukubukuro, or lucky-dip bag. This popular Japanese custom sees intrepid customers line up to take a chance on what might be inside these mystery packages. But fans of sake need not worry because the clever people at Tamagawa have applied the Fukubukuro name to the first Junmai Ginjo to be pressed each season.
But as clever and quirky as the branding may seem, it's actually very fitting to what is inside the bottle. Each season's rice harvest produces a different result, which of course affects how the rice will behave during brewing. The first press then is one that is filled with anticipation and excitement as both brewers and consumers alike await the spoils of the new season.
However, with the risk of spoiling the surprise for those willing to take the chance on Tamagawa Fukubukuro, I'm happy to report that everyone is a winner. It's crisp, fruity and has that wonderful rich buttery taste that is the signature of this fabulous brewery. When you take the first sip, the full-bodied genshu 原酒 really gives your senses a thump. However, it very quickly reveals a softer side that is clean and refined and superbly balanced.
Those who have tried the fantastic Spontaneous Fermentation 自然仕込み range from Tamagawa will know that they are extremely full-on, with some varieties coming in at a whopping 22%abv. Although superb in their own way, they are unfortunately not the best if you want to consume several glasses and still be able to remember what you drank the next day. Therefore, the best way to think of Fukubukuro is that of a tremendous addition to the Tamagawa family, yet just slightly more refined than some of the other more boisterous relatives.
Rice Variety: Gohyakumangoku / 原料米: 五百万石
Polishing Ratio 60% / 精米歩合: 60%
Alcohol 17-18% / アルコール：１７度以上18度未満