There are some great benefits to living in Japan. One of these is the being able to subscribe to a Sake Post a sake sample box. The website www.sakepost.jp is in Japanese, but with the help of Google Translate I was able to navigate and sign up. For just over $16.00 a month I received three samples of Ginjo sake. This is sake that is just made with water, rice, and koji mold. There are subscription options where you can get what is referred to a daily sake for about $12.00 a month. This is a cheaper version that is often made with grain alcohol and drunk more regularly in Japan. You can also get a sampler that has both for about $30.00 a month. I do not enjoy daily sake so I stick with the Ginjo subscription. The sake comes in a book size package delivered to our home with three pouches of sake. Each pouch contains enough sake to fill about three choko (small sake cups). There is a QR code on each pouch that takes you directly to your account where you can keep notes on the sake you are tasting. From this site you can also send a message to the brewery to let them know how you enjoyed their product.
For sampling comments I have used the International Kikisake-shi Quality Evaluation Sheet. This evaluation looks at the Appearance, Aroma, and Taste. Each areas have sub-categories. Appearance has Soundness, Color, and Viscosity. Aroma is further broken down to Soundness, Strength, Specific Examples, Main Aroma, and Complexity. Taste is looked at through Soundness, First Impression, Texture, Specific Taste, Sweetness/Dryness, Aftertaste, Afftereffect, and Complexity.
Sake 1: Hasegawa Brewing in Niigata Nagaoka, Echigo Snow Red Plum Blossoms Sake, Nagaoka Fireworks Traveling Through the Four Seasons, Junmai ginjo-shu, Rice Polish 58%, ABV 14.
- Appearance: Soundness, Color, and Viscosity. Sake is very sound, very clear without oily sheen. Light viscosity.
- Aroma: Soundness, Strength, Specific Examples, Main Aroma, and Complexity. The sake has a strong rice yeast aroma. White bread aromas or light cracker scents are the initial aromas for the sake. Medium to medium strength in aroma.
- Taste: Soundness, First Impressions, texture, Specific Taste, Sweetness/Dryness, Aftertaste, and Aftereffect. The sake has a sweet smooth flavor. There is a gentle finish that is light on the tongue. There is a fuller body on the mouthfeel. It is on the sweeter side, but not sickly sweet or syrupy. There is some light sourness from the sweetness in the flavor.
Each sake has several questions that tasters are allowed to answer and send to the sake manufacture if you would like. These questions also give the percentages of what other drinkers thought. This will also help the taster see where they fall on their knowledge of sake.
- What is your impression of the first smell? I said the rice and yeast and 23% of survey takers agreed with me. What were your first impressions of the taste. I said sweet and 24% of the survey takers agreed with me.
- What food would you recommend? I said Green soybeans (I’m assuming edamame) 23% agreed with me.
- What temperature would you recommend to drink? I said refrigerator along with 84% of population.
- Last was have you seen the fireworks of Nagaoka? I said other and asked for more information from the brewery about them in the comments section.
Sake 2: Sasawai Sake Brewery in Nishikan Ward, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture, Sasajirushi Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, Rice Polish 55%, ABV 15%,
- Appearance: Soundness, Color, and Viscosity. Sake is slightly unsound, not crystal clear but could still probably read a paper through a glass, and thin viscosity.
- Aroma: Soundness, Strength, Specific Examples, Main Aroma, and Complexity. Musty aroma of fermentation yeast. Wet paper and lingering humidity. Not very dominant aromas. But not unpleasant.
- Taste: Soundness, First Impressions, texture, Specific Taste, Sweetness/Dryness, Aftertaste, and Aftereffect. Good soundness. Strong fruit flavors on the taste. More fully attenuated and the alcohol is more prevalent that sweeter sakes. There is a light tingling in the mouthfeel due to what is expected of the alcohol content. Crisper dry finish with little to no aftertaste.
- What is the first aroma? I stated sour and sweet along with 32% of survey takers agreeing with me.
- How do you feel about the taste? I said slightly sweet along with 30% of the survey takers.
- What foods would pair well with this sake? I said chocolate covered raisins which only 14% of the population chose. It was the lowest choice.
- What temperature would this best be served? at I said refrigerator which would put me with 75% of the survey takers.
Sake 3: Inomata Sake Brewery in Itoigawa City, Niigata Prefecture, Name of Nunahime, Junmai daiginjo-shu, Rice Polish 50%, ABV 15%
- Appearance: Soundness, Color, and Viscosity. Very sound. A clear colorless sake with very little viscosity noticed.
- Aroma: Soundness, Strength, Specific Examples, Main Aroma, and Complexity. Sound aroma. Pleasant toasted rice aroma. Very light aroma. Rice, grain scents. Not very complex. Fairly straitforward in simple smells.
- Taste: Soundness, First Impressions, texture, Specific Taste, Sweetness/Dryness, Aftertaste, and Aftereffect. Semi unsound. The flavors in the taste are slightly more harsh than the other samples. There is a fuller mouthfeel with a slight burn on the back end of the taste from the alcohol warmth. There are other off flavors that are picked up. There is a sweetness but not as pleasant as the previous ones. This leaves more of a lingering bitterness from teh sweet flavor.
- What was the first aroma? I stated rice and grainy which 26% agreed.
- What was the first flavor? I stated slightly spicy which 32% agreed with me.
- What food pairing would be best? I said cheese which only 14% agreed with me.
- What temperature is the best? I said refrigerated along with 80% of the population.
Overall I was impressed with this subscription box. For about the cost of a full bottle of decent sake you can sample three different types. For me who is still building my pallet for sake I see the benefit of trying more different types. I am definitly looking forward to more boxes. Hopefully this will become available outside of Japan.