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Kamikokoro Toukagen "Sound of Seashore" Junmai Ginjo Genshu Namazake
Kamikokoro Toukagen "Sound of Seashore" Junmai Ginjo Genshu Namazake
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Kamikokoro Toukagen "Sound of Seashore" Junmai Ginjo Genshu Namazake

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Sweet notes of juicy donut peach, ripe white nectarine and honeysuckle dance against a lightly bitter, lightly astringent yet complex backdrop: fennel pollen, dandelion, and white tea. The palate is marked by a weighty, silky, mouth-coating umami-- like cream on your lips, the savory qualities linger in a long finish.

This sake has undergone a real evolution in the 6-8 years or so it has been in the US, and it's not a surprise-- the brewery started with the idea to make sake from ingredients that represent their home--rice, water, koji and yeast-- and to do this, they looked a product that Okayama is famous for, white peach, for the yeast. So rather than choosing a yeast that already exists and is of known quality, they committed to where they would source that yeast first (white peach) and then built the sake from there. 

Why does this matter? Because honestly, yeast has a huge impact on flavor (especially for a ginjo) so entrusting (almost) the entire flavor profile of your sake to an unknown is a tremendous risk and takes a serious commitment. What if it doesn't ferment properly? What if it doesn't taste good? What if it takes years to perfect-- do you abandon that effort and go back to the standard yeast strains? Do you essentially abandon your project to make an authentically local sake?

Maybe 5 years of kamikokoro was...not quite there.  A little too bitter maybe. In 2021 it was incredible on the first night but a week later started to deteriorate, tasted chlorinated. So good at first that I even bought a second bottle to revisit the magic of the first night. But here we are in 2022, and it's the best it has ever been. The bottle in my shop has been open for about a week and it's just as gorgeous as ever. And...I only have 2 bottles left as of this writing, and I don't think there's any more. So if you're reading this...well, you know. Hop to!

Stats:

  • Brewery: Kamikokoro Shuzo
  • Brand: Kamikokoro  (loosely, "the joy of a pure heart and spirit")
  • Grade: Junmai Ginjo Genshu Namazake
  • Polish: 58%
  • Prefecture: Okayama 
  • Yeast: isolated from Okayama white peach skin
  • Rice: Akihakari (Okayama)
  • Established: 1914
  • Mascot: Komenoumami (designed by a local high schooler)

Background

It's difficult to find information on this brewery because very few of their products are imported and they don't have good brand representation from their American distributors. But this article provides really good background based on a Covid-era Zoom brewery tour, and really does a better job summarizing than I could!