Moriki Shuzo Hanabusa Junmai Yamahai Muroka Nama Genshu 2023

Moriki Shuzo Hanabusa Junmai Yamahai Muroka Nama Genshu 2023

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The other side of Moriki Shuzo, Hanabusa (and Rie Style, available in Japan only), is drastically different from the brewery's famous export brew, Tae no Hana Challenge 90. Hanabusa is less assertive and wild than Tae no Hana, but it shares the brewery's philosophy of using local organic rice, ambient organisms, and pursuing a beautiful, complex style representative of place. 

I always bring sake home with me when I visit Japan, and there are a few brands I seek out in particular. Hanabusa is one of these. It expresses the rare, "elegant" side of ambient fermentations in sake: subtlety, softness, and verve, the volume of each element moderate and in beautiful harmony. Acidity isn't off the charts here, but it is crisp, clear and in focus. This is a transparent, sincere brew with clear flavors of rice, nutmeg, and white pepper, the fleshy juiciness of a good blueberry. The mouthfeel is round and soft, finishing with a finely etched texture, like the softest tannins in old Nebbiolo. 

The pride of Mie and women in sake everywhere!

Prefecture: Mie
Rice: Yamadanishiki (estate grown organic)
Polishing: 70%
Grade: Junmai Kimoto Muroka Nama Genshu
Yeast: ambient
Starter: Yamahai
Acidity: 2
SMV: +7 (dry)
Vintage: 2023

Rumiko Moriki, former toji and current owner/director of Moriki Shuzo, was one of the first (if not the first) few female master brewers in the modern age in Japan. Rumiko is the 5th generation of Moriki Shuzo and runs it with her biochemist husband Hideki in the small town of Iga, also famous for ninjas. 

Soon after beginning her career as a pharmacist, Moriki’s father suffered a stroke, forcing her to take over. Soon after, the large company buying their tanks cancelled their contract-- right after their two sons were born. Inspired by the manga Natsuko no Sake and under the tutelage of Ogawahara of Shinkame Shuzo, in 1989 Moriki switched to Junmai-only brewing. In 1992 the toji left, and Moriki tried her hand as toji. She assumed the role full-time in 1998 with support from her husband-- particularly with respect to the microbial side of production, and in an ongoing fashion as the intuitive director of rice soaking and preparation. In 1995 the brewery began cultivating their own rice organically, and when they began to product a small surplus of house rice in the early 2000s, the excess was used for kimoto experimentation. This rice was ultimately used to create the Tae no Hana Challenge 90 sake: a testament to the natural flavor potential of Iga-grown Yamadanishiki and the microbes that occupy their mud-walled brewery.

The current toji, Rie Toyomoto, began working at Moriki Shuzo in 2000 and took over as toji in 2020.
Nearly all work in the Moriki Shuzo is done laboriously by hand, including the growing of their own rice using organic methods. Much of the sake made at Moriki Shuzo is Kimoto or Yamahai style and utilizes ambient natural yeasts.