Tamagawa Untouched Omachi
By Kinoshita Shuzo
Before I get into tonight's post, I have a little confession to make. It’s also one that might come as a bit of shock. Okay, here goes: I almost never finish a bottle of sake!
There, I’ve said it, and as blasphemous as that may sound, I do have a valid reason. Firstly, due to the nature of my work, I come into contact with a lot of sake. It’s inevitable, and it’s not something that I’m ever going to start complaining about. For the most part, the sake I choose to buy personally is usually decided upon because I want to try a new rice variety, or practice trying to identify a particular yeast or something. I’m an insatiable student of sake, and my desire to experiment with different varieties can often limit the opportunities I have to simply sit back and unwind with a nice glass.
This is especially true at this time of year with the brewing season in full swing. The precious little free time I do have tends to consist of a couple of glasses in the evening followed by an early night. Therefore, with several bottles all open at the same time, it usually takes a while for me to get close to finishing them. Obviously my fridge and cupboards can only hold so many bottles at a time, which eventually leads to some unfortunate casualties.
However, as is evident from this picture, tonight’s sake from Kinoshita Shuzo 木下酒造 was definitely finished to the last drop. And if I’m being honest, from the very first sip there was never any doubt in my mind that this one wasn’t going to last long. In fact, I’m not sure it would have lasted even if it had been the much larger issho-bin. Put simply, it’s fantastic! But as is often the case with Tamagawa, these complex sake have many layers of nuance that compels you to keep coming back for more.
This latest “Untouched” series is no exception, and it’s back label gives details as to what differentiates this series from the others in the Takagawa range. Essentially it’s a Jikagumi 直汲み, or sake that has been bottled directly from the press. This of course means that it’s undiluted and un-filtered. It’s also not been pasteurized, although this of course isn’t always the case. More often than not though, this style is all about freshness, and sake bottled as Nama often have a little fizz still left in them.
In true Tamagawa style though, despite its fresh lively credentials, this particular bottle manages to go against the grain. For starters, it has that wonderful buttery taste and aroma that is the signature of the brand. This comes as a result of storing unpasteurized生熟成 and a closer inspection of the bottle revealed that it left the brewery back in December of 2018. The shop that I bought it from is meticulous with their stock, so I have no doubt that they recognised its ageing potential and kept it aside for a year before putting it up for sale.
It worked, and what has resulted is a superbly rich and complex sake that has all the idiosyncratic qualities that this brewery is famous for. For me personally, the icing on the cake for this wonderful sake is that it is made from Okayama’s legendary Omachi-mai. This lauded rice variety is synonymous with intricate bold flavours, and this particular example highlights everything that makes Omachi so popular with lovers of sake. In hindsight, it never stood a chance of surviving in my house.