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Thoughts of soapy water, of biting alcohol and of paraffin should be laid to one side. For here, in this lightly frosted bottle, is a liquid at once delicate but also full of subtle, tantalising flavours. Sake occupies a complicated niche in the ranks of alcoholic drinks and not one I profess to know much about. There are the various types rice (here it is Gohyakumangoku) and differing levels of milling. Then each Saki is graded from Futsushu through to ultra-premium Junmai. The more the rice is milled, the cleaner and lighter with a corresponding delicacy of flavour the final drink is likely to be. Isake Premium has been milled to 65% which means that 35% of each rice grain has been milled away. Brewed like beer but served like wine.

Sipping a small chilled glassful a comparison with wine is hard to ignore. The flavour is initially delicate with hints of lemon and lychee, but unlike a corresponding white wine, the acidity is much lower. After a swirl over the gums the flavour explodes in a mix of fresh fruits, nuts and cooked rice all with a herbal edge. The finish, with sweet and sour notes, is quite long – tailored to the Western palate perhaps as the Japanese preference is for a short run of flavour. Alcohol 14.5%. Sake should be consumed within a year of purchase and within a few days of opening to retain the freshness and the subtly of flavour.

Yamatogawa Isake Premium from Fukushima Prefecture is available from Isake Store. This 180ml bottle is £9.99.

Yamatogawa Isake Premium

4 Comments »

  1. Ed says:

    I’ve been getting into chilled saki the last few years. We’ve a couple of fusion restaurants down here that have saki sommeliers and if i remember a store hosting tastings. Must see if I can find this one down here.

  2. Andrew says:

    It is not something I have seen much about and can’t really see it being anything other than a niche – a fascinating and sophisticated niche though. Although with the rise in popularity of sushi I would have thought there would be more interest.

  3. John says:

    There is a new thing on the market!
    Red Sake!
    Yes they make red sake using red rice.
    It tastes more fruity then the regular one and has a lovely rose red colour.
    I have seen it in Selfridges where the Isake Sommelier is doing tastings.
    They are organizing one with the red sake running from 12-16 feb 2007.
    Definietly worth giving a try.

  4. Anna says:

    Come and sample the new Isake Classic in Selfridges 5th -6th April 2008! From 3pm..

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