Koshu is aged sake.
It's a passion of mine and one of my absolute favorite pleasures. Alongside champagne, koshu is my preferred celebratory drink. With a meal, to finish a meal, or simply to stop and admire. The fact that koshu pairs so beautifully with cheese, pickles, bitter vegetables and cured meats is just a cherry on top.
Because so very little is made, and even less is exported, I feel that flight -sized pours are the best way to share koshu with as many people as possible. Its many expressions include bitter chocolate, dried mushroom, toffee, aged cheeses, dried fruit, tamari, and toasted nuts.
The sake featured in this flight will inevitably change according to availability. But it will always feature at least three representations of koshu. When particularly old and special bottles are available, they will be offered as a supplement.
Mioya Shuzo, Yuho “Rhythm of the Centuries” Junmai Yama-Oroshi, 4 years
This is perhaps the most accessible and widely available koshu on the market, not advertised as such, but showing distinct indications of age at 4 years. To increase the acidity (protecting the sake for aging), improve flavor complexity and to provide a supple mouthfeel, Yuho is brewed using the kimoto (wild fermentation) starter method. The aged notes are subtle and elegant.
Brewery est. 1897, Goyhakumangoku & Notohikari rice, 55% + 60% polish, Ishikawa prefecture, 15.9% ABV
Enoki Shuzo, Hanahato “Kiyomori Heian” (“Gorgeous Bird”) Junmai Kijoshu, 8 years
Enoki Shuzo is famous for being a pioneer in kijoshu production and the first to introduce kijoshu to market in 1974. The modern kijoshu method was inspired by ancient sake brewing techniques from the Heian period (794-1185) and designed to compete with Sauternes, Tokaj and other fine dessert wines. The process utilizes a high proportion of koji and replaces a portion of the brewing water with completed sake, resulting in a high-sugar, high alcohol mash, which is aged 8 years in glass isshobin before release.
This sake has won almost a dozen awards, again in 2021, at the IWC.
Brewery est. 1899, Nakate Shinsenbon rice, 65% polish, #9 yeast, Hiroshima prefecture, 16.5% ABV.
Terada Honke, Kaikoshu 2005, 16 years
Junmai muroka nama genshu (pure rice, unfined, raw, undiluted), ambient yeast, house propagated koji. The only aged sake in the flight which is unpasteurized-- the microorganisms are still living as it ages at ambient temperatures. The base sake is “Shizen no Manma,” the brewery’s flagship, which is also available for comparison by the 90ml glass ($7).
Brewery est. 1673, organic Miyamanishiki & Koshihikari rice, 70% polish, ambient yeast, Chiba prefecture, 19% ABV.
Kidoizumi Shuzo, Kokin 1990, 31 years (average)
Junmai Ginjo Muroka Yamahai Genshu, blended from 3 vintages of pasteurized Hakugyokko, the youngest of which is 1991. Kidoizumi shuzo brews with the proprietary hot yamahai starter method and is one of very few breweries with extensive experience aging sake. Kokin is aged in glass isshobin (1.8L) prior to blending.
Brewery est. 1879. Yamada Nishiki, 60% polish, house variant of #7 yeast, Chiba prefecture, organic rice cultivation (since 1967), 18% ABV.