Takacho Bodaimoto Junmai
By Yucho Shuzo in Nara Prefecture
Very few breweries appeal to our inner sake nerd quite like Yucho Shuzo from Nara prefecture. Their flagship brand, Kaze no Mori, is synonymous with precision brewed uber-fresh namazake and boasts a legion of loyal fans across the globe. I myself have been partial to a glass or two during the warm summer months here in Japan, and it was an early favourite of mine back when I first got into sake.
In recent years, however, my preferences have changed somewhat from those early days, and the majority of the sake I buy is not what you would call mainstream. It's not that I don't enjoy more conventional styles, rather I always seem to gravitate towards more nuanced sake. More often than not, these are found in the kimoto-kei category consisting of yamahai, kimoto and, depending on who you speak to, bodaimoto.
What connects all these different styles is that they are all traditional methods of making moto (yeast starter) that typically utilise naturally occuring lactic bacteria to produce lactic acid. This is different from the majority of sake on the market nowadays that have cultured lactic acid added from the beginning, saving on valuable time, and often leading to a much cleaner style of sake.
For those interested in learning more about Kimoto-kei, you can check out two of my previous blogs below.
Bodaimoto is the oldest of these traditional methods, and it's roots can be traced all the way back to the Muromachi Period (1400s). What is interesting, though, is that it's production process actually has a lot more in common with modern sokujo - rather than cultivate lactic acid during the moto stage, an additional mixture of raw rice and water is prepared before hand. Given time, this mixture will lead to a lactic fermentation that, once completed, can be drained off and used to prepare a standard moto.
Needless to say, this rather complex brewing style also leads to very funky, naunced sake, often notable for their pronounced acidity. This sake is no exception, and has a wonderful full-bodied, juicy acidity to match it's weighty mouthfeel. This particular Takacho, however, has one further further trick up it's sleeve that is sure polarise opinion: it's been aged for over 3 years unpasteurised. Aged nama is really nothing new or particularly exclusive nowadays, although it is still a very niche segment of the market. Sake as complex and intriguing as this, however, certainly bodes well for it's potential future growth.
Far from the fresh, zesty namazake we associate with Kaze no Mori, this has plump flavours reminiscent of tinned fruits, burnt pinnacle and dried mango. It explodes in the mouth, and continues to evolve with each sip. All of the richness is tied together with a wonderful sweet and sour acidity that lingers long after you have finished. A truly unique sake that is sure to divide opinion, but one that every sake drinker should try at least once. Me personally, I think this will be a regular in my household for many years to come