In Japan now. Any sake recommendations that I should purchase here that may be harder or more costly to try in the States? I am very flexible with taste preference.
Are you fluent in reading Japanese or do you have somebody with you who can? Otherwise it can be quite painful trying to differentiate one sake bottle from another.
Some great sake breweries are:
Of course you might have better chance of finding Japanese wines, since most of these sake breweries I listed here are very small-scale.
I am very happy with Otokoyama and Kubota. There is a craze about Juyondai these days but I yet to try one.
Have you read this article? https://blog.wblakegray.com/2019/07/the-real-story-of-juyondai-mysterious.html
Apparently the Juyondai hype train is mostly based on nothing. It is not an artisanal sake brewery but an enormous facility that is churning out sweet bulk sake released in very limited bottlings. Haven’t tasted it myself, but I trust Gray about all things related to sake.
I have someone who is fluent with me.
That certainly helps a lot when trying to decipher all the sake labels.
Do you know at all the style of sake you like? More or less polish? Funky versus clean? Sweeter versus dry? Sake is extremely varied and complex. Asking for brewery recommendations in a vacuum is a little like asking for wine producer suggestions without knowing whether you like red versus white, for example. It’s totally fine to have a list of names to refer to, but I highly recommend you go into a store and tell them the style you like, then ask what they have that fits the bill and they recommend. If you’re really just starting to experiment, though, this is as legit a way as any, I suppose.
One other note: unless you are looking for the largest breweries, it can be difficult to go into a store looking for a particular producer. This is the same problem as when friends here ask me to recommend a wine - the chances that the three stores they go to will have that wine are low, since I’m not going to be recommending anything mass produced. Of course, if it’s a brewery local to where you are that you are asking about, it will be easy. My favorite, Kikuhime, is relatively hard to find outside of Ishikawa, but if you are in Ishikawa, it’s everywhere. Some of the biggest and most popular will be everywhere, of course, but often if you go into a store looking for a particular brewery, you’ll come up empty handed.
I like them all. I am not starting out with sake now but it has been a very long time since I drank sake so I have no idea whats out there anymore. I dont like things like plum wines though.
Okay, if you have zero preferences, I guess starting with breweries is as good as anything. Add Kikuhime to the list. They specialize in yamahai, though not all their bottlings are yamahai.
Whenever my husband or I pass through Japan we pick up Kubota Manju to bring back; it’s usually available for 3,500 yen, which is invariably 2-3x cheaper than the US price. Thank goodness it’s easy to find. It was my epiphany sake and I remain quite infatuated
Dassai is good but it has never moved me. Juyondai is big but boring and lacking in nuance
Kubota Manju is one I actually know of and get. Thx though!
You could try Nabeshima and Aramasa, those are two highly sought after sake by locals in Japan.
That’s a good sake, very consistent, my 2nd favorite.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a smartass comment, because it isn’t intended as such, but is there any meaningful Sake made outside of Japan? I’ve only ever seen Japanese ones.
Depends on what you mean by “meaningful.” There are breweries outside Japan, including at least one of some note in Brooklyn, and there is growing interest in making it. It’s odd to me, too, as the word I use often (not always) to order that beverage in Japan is “nihonshu” which, obviously, includes the part about Japan.
Right, sake being the generic Japanese word for alcohol
I’ve had one from Momokawa in Oregon and it was decent
Huchu Homare makes my absolute favorite, Watari Bune 55 & Liquid Gold - the Junmai Daiginjo is delicious too.
Off the top of my head:
Aramasa (especially those with 6 yeast)