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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
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
Nanbu Bijin in Iwate prefecture has been brewing premium sake for over a hundred years. The Tokubetsu Junmai is their stalwart, a sake to be enjoyed at any time; easy drinking and unfussy, with nice texture and a clean finish. The nama version is super fun, adding vibrancy and freshness. The nose offers notes of green apple, melon, grass, and blossom. The palate is a touch more savory and shows some steamed rice and toast flavors, as well as more tropical fruit when it warms up, think pineapple and papaya. A little brash when first opened, this sake integrates wonderfully after 15-30 minutes of air. A great entry level nama! 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