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A new batch of the Junmai Ginjo Nama, and one I am particularly excited about. Since tasting some of the first releases from Brooklyn Kura in the beginning of this year, this particular release shows more nuance and depth, and a desire for constant improvement. Brandon extended the fermentation times for this batch, going for a 40 day fermentation as opposed to the more common 30-35 days. He also forwent a sterile filtration this time, leading to a brighter, fresher expression. This sake is aromatically very complex, with cantaloupe, cantaloupe rind, banana, citrus, lemon rind, yellow flowers, yogurt, and a slightly green, grassy quality all present on the nose. The palate is bright, with higher acidity than earlier batches, but still has the mouth-coating quality I've come to associate with Brooklyn Kura sake. It is drier than previous versions, but still comes in at a Sake Meter Value (Nihonshudo) of -1, making it just a tiny touch off-dry, though this is balanced fantastically by the vibrant acidity. This sake is perfect as an aperitif, or with light summer fare, salads, crudo, or creamy cheeses. Oskar Kostecki
Fukucho is made at Imada Shuzo, in the town of Akitsu in Hiroshima Prefecture, on the shores of Japan's Inland Sea, a body of water separating the islands of Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Notably, Imada Shuzo is run by a woman, Miho Imada, who holds the title of both Brewery President and Toji Master, positions she inherited after over a decade of training in the family business. In the years since, she's put her own mark on the brewery, most notably with the Forgotten Fortune bottling. Imada-san revived an heirloom variety of Hiroshima rice called Hattanso, previously only conserved in seed banks, and replanted it for the first time in over a century. After years of experimentation, she's dialed in the exact brewing specifications and crafts this wonderfully clean, vibrant sake with a undercurrent of salinity and umami. The nose is delicate with notes of melon, cucumber peel and steamed rice, and the palate shows great acidity and crisp dry finish. Hiroshima is famous for its oysters, and this sake is a perfect pairing. Delicious with all types of shellfish and seafood, this sake also pairs wonderfully with salads and other light vegetarian fare. Oskar Kostecki
Masumi, the premium brand from Miyasaka Shuzo in Nagano, makes one of our favorite hiya-oroshi styles. On the nose, among the more forward notes of steamed rice, melon, citrus rind, and underripe mango is a savory undercurrent of sesame paste, hazelnuts, cream and a faint whiff of pine, moss, and crushed leaves. As the sake warms up to room temperature, the savory characteristics become even more prominent, it gains in weight and mouthfeel, and a hint of caramel and honey creeps in. Enjoy with fall vegetable dishes, mushrooms, a roast chicken, or as a wonderful accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. Oskar Kostecki
Mutemuka Shuzo is located in the mountains of Kochi Prefecture on the southern shore of Shikoku Island, close to the source of Shimanto-gawa, known as Japan's "purest" river on account of its remote location and lack of dams or other obstacles. Established in 1893, Mutemuka has been an early pioneer of organic rice farming, and for the past few generations has been crafting bold expressions of sake. This junmai nama genshu (unpasteurized and undiluted) is a knockout. Laden with bold umami flavors, this explodes on the palate with notes of grass, hazelnut, cocoa nibs, parsnip, dried apricot, raw honey, citrus peel, and a slightly lactic quality. Due to the slightly higher alcohol (18%) is has a very rich mouthfeel and feels vibrant on the palate. Pair with roasted meats and vegetables (it was particularly good with pork), mushroom risotto, hearty udon, and other savory, umami-laden dishes. Oskar Kostecki
Ryujin Shuzo creates the Oze no Yukidoke line of sake in Gunma Prefecture, just to the north of Tokyo. This small brewery has a long history, going all the way back to 1597, and creates very crisp and mellow sake, mostly due to the very soft water coming from underground sources close to the brewery. With notes of steamed rice, anise, melon, banana, pineapple, and a super dry finish, this is a classic junmai to be enjoyed in any occasion. Oskar Kostecki