Kuheiji Junmai Daiginjo "Betsu Atsurae" 2022

Kuheiji Junmai Daiginjo "Betsu Atsurae" 2022

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Classic Kuheiji. Elegant, even understated on the nose, but overdelivering on the palate, much like a great chablis opening up from its rest in bottle. This particular Yamadanishiki junmai daiginjo is characterized numerically by 35% polish, and stylistically by its emphasis on umami and acidity. It is aged a minimum of one year before release. As of 2024, 2022 is the most current vintage available.

I sense elevated acidity with fresh citrus notes: lime leaf, orange fizz, and a tart lactic note reminiscent of kefir. Pure and crystalline-- lean and ephemeral, but with a long and haunting finish. Significantly lighter and more delicate than the entry level Eau de Desir, but clearly of the same mind.

From the Kuheiji website ([adjustments added for clarity])

"One of the three versions of [Kuheiji] Yamadanishiki sake polished past 50 percent, [which is] the [threshold] beyond which notes of toasted undergrowth cereals and mushrooms are erased in favor of great freshness. Tertiary ([aging]) aromas will also take a special [direction] toward white pepper or anise.
[Yamadanishiki] rice offers unlimited possibilities due to its ability to be highly polished. Like a diamond whose complexity reveals itself as you get closer to its heart.
35 percent is the stage where the rice umami still expresses itself, with taut acidity, which explains the fiery feeling in the mouth from the start.
The residual sugar content has been deliberately reduced, which gives the sake a great clarity.
If sake [generally plays a supporting role against] the dishes it accompanies, [Betsu Atsurae instead] competes with the food, therefore requiring an equally robust pairing such as fatty meat or rich caviar."

Brewery: Banjo Jozo
Location: Aichi
Rice: Yamadanishiki (Hyogo)
Polishing: 35%
ABV: 16%

From the brewery:
"We grow our own rice, the heart of our sake, in Hyogo Prefecture's Kurodashƍ, Okayama Prefecture's Akaiwa, and the Camargue region of France.We feel this is important so each and every one of our products is truly hand-crafted from start to finish.
This also means each vintage has its own unique story to tell.
It's terroir is ingrained in its very body, and our philosophy is to allow each vintage express that."