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A new batch of the Junmai Ginjo Nama from our friends at Brooklyn Kura. 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 great acidity, 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 fare, salads, crudo, or creamy cheeses. Oskar Kostecki
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
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