Chiyonosono Junmai Ginjo is not that sake (which is absolutely delicious in its own right) but is instead a totally different interpretation of the same rice variety. The texture is completely unique-- fuzzy, velveteen, utterly smooth-- and while the flavors aren't especially complex, they are dialed in to a perfect balance and clarity. I am suddenly eating a ripe, velvety soft anjou pear in a Summer field, smelling hay, chamomile, and the seashore in the distance. I have a few bites of sweet brown rice mochi left in my lunchbox and I'm thinking about how tasty they will be.
Some sake, it's difficult to convey what makes them special. It's a mood, a delicate balance, a subtle precision. With gratitude to the brewery that brought Shinriki back from extinction, and again to the brewery that showed how charming it can be when brewed as a junmai ginjo, this is one such sake. Cheesy maybe, but Shinriki translates to sacred power and it sure seems like a fitting name.
Enjoy on its own and revel in its texture, pair with sweet-tasting seafood (scallops, shrimp, lobster, crab) for a perfect pairing by design, or with slightly-sweet vegetarian dishes such as carrot soup, parsnip puree, butternut squash or chestnut ravioli with brown butter and chestnut honey sauce.
- Brewery: Chiyonosono
- Brand: Chiyonosono
- Established: 1896
- Prefecture: Kumamoto
- Rice: Shinriki
- Polish: 55%
- Starter method: Sokujo
Known as the Junmai expert, Chiyonosono was the first brewery to stop adding distilled alcohol to its sake after the rice shortages of World War II, paving the way for the popularity of Junmai today. Originally a rice wholesaler, Chiyonosono specializes in rice cultivation. Chiyonosono has access to heirloom strains and brews sake with distinctive rice textures and aromas.
The brewery is located on the southernmost island of Kyushu—the gateway into Japan—known for Asian and European cuisine, historic architecture, and distinct regional culture. The future 5th generation president and daughter of the current brewery president, Yuri Honda, is already making a name for herself as an innovator in the sake community and is primed to continue pushing the brewery toward forward-thinking yet approachable sake.