It's Spring namazake time~ check the seasonal selections to see what's available!

Harushika "Shiboribana" Junmai Ginjo Namazake
Harushika "Shiboribana" Junmai Ginjo Namazake
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Harushika "Shiboribana" Junmai Ginjo Namazake

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What a damn fine sake! Holy mackerel!

This year's Harushika nama release is absolutely gorgeous and was chosen as one of my seasonal club selections-- quite possibly my favorite Spring release so far.

The name Shiboribana is a double entendre, referring to flowers (one word for which is shiboribana) as well as alluding to shiboritate, which is fresh-pressed sake. The brewery name Harushika consists of the kanji for Spring as well as the kanji for deer (which, according to legend, were rode by ancient Nara lords) who roam freely in Nara cities and are about as docile and friendly as you could hope for. 
The rice for this sake is polished to ginjo level (60%) and interestingly uses rice grown in Hyogo, which is like Napa Valley for Cabernet: ideal conditions for excellent and sometimes astonishingly expensive rice. (To even purchase Hyogo Toku-A Yamadanishiki rice, you need to have long-standing relationships with the growers and must be prepared to shell out big bucks.) Still, this is a combination of two rice varieties grown in Hyogo: Gohyakumangoku (for the koji) and Kitanishiki (a table rice; for the main mash).

The result is an intensely aromatic sake with profound floral notes: honeysuckle, wildflower honey, watermelon, juicy green melon, rainier cherry, overripe greengage plum, and some mysterious, clean umami notes...fresh silken tofu, matcha, & almond milk. The texture is lightly fizzy, silky, but also gently weighted with a rich core of umami. It seems a little sweet and fruity at first, but finishes dry.

Pairs lovely with feta cheese, which emphasizes the sweet fruit. Would be just fabulous with a fruit, herb and feta salad: strawberries, watermelon, grilled peaches, fennel fronds and mint. Floral peppers like sansho, shichimi togarashi, and fresh ground white or pink peppercorns dusted on carpaccio with lemon and a little herb salad. Or a nice big bowl of fresh guacamole with lots of herbs and tons of lime.
But honestly? The balance of this one is so good, I think it would pair beautifully with just about anything. Tacos, pizza (especially with arugula on top), cured meats, a fresh pasta with ricotta and spring name it.


  • Brewery: S. Imanishi Co. Ltd. 
  • Brand: Harushika 
  • Grade: Junmai Ginjo Namazake
  • Polish: 60%
  • Prefecture: Nara 
  • Yeast: House
  • Rice: Hyogo Kitanishiki & Gohyakumangoku
  • Established: 1884