Kuroushi Junmai "Black Bull"

Kuroushi Junmai "Black Bull"

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Although labeled as a junmai, Kuroushi white label is polished to 55%: well into ginjo polishing and nearly a daiginjo! It's more unctuous and richer, though, than its polishing level would let on. A touch of pink peppercorn lends complexity and astringency but overall, this wide, gentle beast is all about the texture. 

Stats:

  • Region: Wakayama
  • Rice: Yamadanishiki
  • Polishing: 55% (per brewery website, seems like it varies 55-58% depending year)
  • Yeast: 901
  • ABV: 15.6%
  • SMV: +4 (dry)

Brewery:

A producer specializing in Junmai and selling the majority of its products to the local  market, Kuroushi is highly regarded within Wakayama and associated with the umami-driven junmai style. "Black Bull" is named for one of the 50 Famous Waters of Kishu, "Kuroushi no Mizu" (aka black bull water) which has a high mineral content. This minerality drives happy, vigorous fermentations that break down the rice more fully, leading to a high amino acid content (aka more umami for you). This famous spring emerges from a black bull statue and is used by several local breweries. While the brewery is reluctant-- as so many are-- to use the term terroir, they concede that "if you dare to think of "terroir", water occupies an important position."

In addition, this is one of the few breweries that- in the interest of attracting good talent, and offering a better work/life balance for their employees- has transitioned to year-round employment, as of 2017. The industry standard has been difficult, 24/7 seasonal work (a bit like wine harvests) for hundreds of years, but forward thinking breweries like Kuroushi have introduced new products, such as plum wine, amazake, and narazuke (a regional, aged sake kasu pickle) as well as other sources of revenue (seaside inn, tasting room) to keep their staff gainfully employed all year long. 

For more information on the 50 Famous Waters of Kishu: http://www.wakkun.or.jp/meisui/meisui.htm