Denshin Hiyaoroshi Junmai "Aki"

Denshin Hiyaoroshi Junmai "Aki"

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This might be the most rustic of the annual Denshin releases, because it makes no effort to be “pretty” or aromatic, instead it is a full embrace of the flavors that make Autumn so wonderful and nostalgic. This sake is comforting, simple: the kind of drink I reach for to relax, to not think. While I offer many suggestions for non-Japanese cuisine, this might be the one most suited to rustic, homestyle, cool weather Japanese cooking. It also ages gracefully, improving and evolving each year. 

Undiluted, full-bodied, old-school hiyaoroshi, with unmistakably autumnal notes of fire-roasted sweet potato, chestnut, boiled peanuts and egg custard. An indulgent, guilty pleasure that feels like a sake mounted with butter. Delicious at room temp, a little warm or even hot (but use an ochoko with a wide rim to dissipate the alcohol vapors.)

 

Grade: Junmai Muroka Genshu
Rice polishing: 70%
Yeast: Proprietary
Rice: Koshinoshizuku (local, rare)
ABV: 17-18%
Aged, undiluted version of Denshin “Ine,” a year-round release.

Ippongi Kubohonten is based in Fukui prefecture, and it might be my favorite brewery for seasonal releases. Throughout the year, their interpretations of seasonal sake are creative, original, capture the essence of the seasonal mood, and are an excellent value for money. Fukui, in particular the Oku- Echigen agricultural region, is a pristine environment fed by a combination of alps runoff, heavy winter snow, and the proximity of the Japan Sea. Ippongi is Fukui’s #1 brewery, and Denshin is their premium label. Because of the abundance of local seafood, seafood pairings are implicit. For the abundance of agriculture, local rice is implicit as well. This sake is brewed with the rare, local variety Koshinoshizuku, which Ippongi contracts from local farmers. It’s the most fruity of the bunch, and it delivers overwhelmingly on that point: being “straight from the tank” at 17-18%, it’s richly concentrated with tropical flavor. The sake isn’t technically sweet (perhaps a gram or two higher than the rest in this lineup) but the character of the fruit is ultra-ripe, tender, and sweet because the water itself is so soft.

Pair with noodle kugel, (cashew or regular) mac and cheese, roasted sweet potatoes with miso-honey-butter, butter chicken, or Japanese cream stew.