March 12, 2006

ISake Premium

By Andrew Barrow In Articles
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 March 12, 2006

    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 March 12, 2006

    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 February 12, 2007

    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 April 5, 2008

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

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