Kiku(聞く), No Evil
By Kanpai London, Peckham, London.
It’s not an understatement to say that tonight’s sake is a very special one indeed! Not only is it a first for Origin to feature a non-Japanese sake, but it also happens to be British as well. Made in very small batches in Peckham, London, this is bottle 99 of just 260 in existence. It’s part of Kanpai London's ultra-premium ‘No Evil’ series, and as the label states, it was made to showcase an alternative style to that typical of the ginjo classification.
Instead of boisterous fruity aromas, Kiku is more savoury and subdued. It actually even reminded me a little of a good yamahai when I first tried it. Very often these days, dai-ginjo are slightly sweet, but this is very dry with a firm backbone of amino acidity. As a result, it’s best temperature is definitely not chilled, and is much more suited to room temperature or, even better, warmed!
As I always do when I drink kan-sake at home, I heated it up as high as Tobikirikan (about 70.C) and then sipped away at it as it began to cool. At the highest temperature, it was just a little too dry, with some bitterness. However, once cooled to around 40.C (nuru-kan) it softened up considerably and finally revealed its true mellow and rich character.
Considering all of the above characteristics, in my book at least, this is definitely a sake to enjoy with food, or what the Japanese call shokuchu-shu (食中酒). In particular, more rustic hearty dishes like beef stew, ramen or that wonderful winter dish nabe 鍋. I drank it alongside a nice nabe with plenty of pork, and it really matched well with the fatty meat and mushrooms.
In conclusion then, this sake lives up to its promise on the label of ‘flying in the face of typical ginjo’. It’s bold, unpretentious and maybe even just a little bit rugged. But it’s that ruggedness that gives Kiku it’s character and appeal. You definitely have to show it a bit of love before you can tame it and bring out its gentler side. But when you do, it will reward you as a great companion to a wide array of hearty dishes.
Brand: Kiku, No Evil
Spec: Junmai Dai-Ginjo
Rice Variety: Calrose
Polishing Ratio: 50%
Yeast Variety: Association #901 (non-foaming)