Isojiman Shuzo is located in Szikuoka Prefecture, on the coast of Suruga Bay, with Mount Fuji rising towards the east and the foothills of the Southern Japanese Alps to the north. Relatively young for such a heralded brewery, Isojiman was established in 1830. It wasn't until the 1970's that its fame became cemented, when Isojiman led the push towards what is considered high end sake today: a drier, cleaner, and more refined style. It is one of the only breweries in Japan that uses an almost completely stainless steel facility, apart from the koji room, which is still the traditional cedar interior. This Tobubetsu Junmai, made from heirloom Omachi rice, is a pearl of the category, and we are very happy to have a few bottles to offer. Deceptively rice and fruit-forward on the initial taste, the longer one spends with this bottle, to more layers emerge, revealing a savory core with a distinct saline, almost seaweed, character. It has the richness and broadness associated with a Tokubetsu Junmai, but there is also a depth and linearity running through it, like a shaft of sunlight striking through an underwater forest of kelp. The finish is long and engaging. This is a beautiful sake to savor with a wide range of foods, but I feel it would do best in a setting with seafood.
Isojiman continues to push the boundaries of sake brewing, recently bottling three sake from three separately designated rice fields, one of the first trials in "terroir." Though not available in the United States at the moment, we commend Isojiman for continuously exploring the potential of sake and hope to one day taste the fruits of their labor. Oskar Kostecki
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