Timothy is at the forefront of sake education, both to the general public and also to industry professionals. He combines first hand knowledge of sake brewing techniques along with a deep understanding of the sake industry.
Monica Samuels is one of the country’s most accomplished sake professionals – including being named “Top 40 Under 40” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and holding the prestigious title of Sake Samurai.
Chris, also known as the Sake Ninja, specializes in thought provoking saké-and-food pairing experiences that are approachable, yet rival the most serious wine and cocktail lists in the business.
I chose Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo because for me it is the perfect brew for people who are just getting started in sake! The taste is crisp, clean, lightly dry and always easy drinking! The aroma is very restrained and light. This allows Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo to pair with a very wide variety of foods. One of the best pairings is with a classic – sushi! The crisp finish on this sake is the ideal palate cleanser. In addition, I do consider this sake to be the ultimate example of Niigata Prefecture’s regional style. That light and clean flavor is a reflection of the mountain snow waters used all across Niigata’s snow country for sake brewing. One sip will transport your spirit to the mountains of Niigata, even if we can’t travel there in person right now. Kanpai!
Niigata is located along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Chubu Region, just 2 hours from Tokyo on a bullet train. Niigata is well known for its high-quality rice, delicious food and sake. And there are a lot of fun things to do throughout the year in Niigata such as summer firework festivals and winter skiing.
I chose Rihaku “Wandering Poet” Junmai Ginjo because it always makes me think of Spring. Since Spring is the season of new beginnings, the aromas of freshly cut grass, bright green citrus, and tropical green fruit on this sake smell and taste to me like the earth is coming back to life again after a long and cold Winter.
This sake is a lovely regional example of Shimane, a mountainous and coastal region that almost feels hidden due to its sparse population. The rice used is yamada nishiki, known as the king of sake rice, and 100% of it is grown locally in Shimane. The yeast is also a prefecturally developed Shimane yeast.
The poet Rihaku was famous for loving sake so much that he would drink sake before writing poetry, and then write his poetry about sake. I hope that this sake inspires you in a similar fashion!
Shimane is located in western Japan’s Chugoku Region. Shimane has a lot of must-see places like Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan; the world heritage Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine; and the Adachi Museum of Art, rated three stars by The Michelin Green Guide Japan. Matsue Castle is also a famous cherry blossom viewing spot during spring.
I selected Dewazakura Oka Cherry Bouquet” Ginjo for the National Cherry Blossom Festival because it is the perfect springtime sake. Light aromas of Cherry Blossoms on the nose, with hints of strawberry flowers and soft white peach. Light and clean on the palate, dried fruit and nuanced melon makes it perfect for Hanami under the beautiful Sakura and clear blue skies.
Sipping on this sake brings you images of the beautiful cherry blossoms as you close your eyes. You can imagine sitting in the Dewasansan Mountains under the famous Cherry Blossoms of the Akita and Yamagata Region. Dewa– the term for the old region of Akita and Yamagata, and Sakura (Zakura) make up the name of the brewery. Pretty perfect to enjoy this time of year! Kanpai!
Yamagata is located in the Japan’s northern Tohoku region. It is known for its fruits, hot springs and ski resorts. There are a lot of sake breweries in Yamagata, some of which are open to the public. Visitors can enjoy sake brewery tour and sake tasting.