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Gokyo Arabashiri Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu

Gokyo Arabashiri Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu

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This year's Gokyo Arabashiri explodes on the palate with brash, fizzy rainier cherry, fluffy cotton candy, and early nectarine, finishing with a salty, margarita zip, and filled out in the middle with an umami weight that reminds me of creme fraiche.
Look out for high acidity here-- atypically high even for a namazake-- which makes it refreshing and cuts through the bold, sweet-savory notes. As a genshu (undiluted) release we have that extra concentration to thank for this intensity as well as the higher alcohol. The texture on the palate is fuzzy and weighty yet it finishes super clean, letting only the sensation of umami linger-- very classic Yamaguchi. 
Arabashiri essentially means "free run" and is the sake that pours out of the press first, before any pressure is applied. There's an interesting distinction here, too-- free run is considered to be lower quality than the middle fraction of the pressing because it is more...shall we say, astringent, brash and youthful, while the middle fraction is considered more subtle, soft, and approachable. But there is a charm to this free run, arabashiri sake too-- especially when it is left unpasteurized. Arabashiri has a powerful, dense core of energy and flavor-- complex in a wild and chaotic way. To me, it possesses the mad energy and beauty of Spring snowmelt rushing through mountain valleys on a warm day. A little dangerous but also compelling and beautiful.

Try it on ice or mixed with a little pocari sweat/ ramune/ or fizzy water. Because of the strength of its flavor, I really recommend looking to equally powerful flavors for pairing. In Japanese cuisine this might be miso glazes, braised short rib, curry rice or yakiniku-- while in other cuisines you might find inspiration in Calabrian cuisine, cacio e pepe, herb roasted chicken, a mild tikka masala or similarly spiced cuisine. When paired with more subtle flavors, it's likely to overshadow them. 

Finally, when tasted after being open for about a month, I'm getting a pretty different profile but one I might even enjoy more. The sake has settled into itself, the astringency and even sweet notes have mellowed-- it has a lot more soft breadth on the palate rather than just weight and brashness. Less zingy, more umami, a bit of a witbeer thing going on too. Leave it to Gokyo to make something this evolving and dynamic!


Stats:

  • Brewery: Sakai Shuzo
  • Brand: Gokyo 
  • Grade: Junmai Namazake
  • Polish: 60%
  • Prefecture: Yamaguchi 
  • Yeast: 1801 & 9E
  • Rice: Nihonbare (local- kakemai), Yamadanishiki (local- koji)
  • Established: 1871