Ohmine 3 Grain Dewasansan MNG

Ohmine 3 Grain Dewasansan MNG

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Fun, party-like notes of muscat grapes, Japanese bubblegum, soft Asian pear, and a buzzy wintergreen, slightly astringent grapefruit pith, sort of freshness. The mouthfeel is lightly effervescent and the sake seems almost weightless for its long finish and vibrant flavor.

Ohmine's house style is modern, fruity, clean and fresh, much like Heiwa Shuzo's KID label, but a touch sweeter and more expensive, generally making junmai daiginjo sake only. They reveal few details about their brewing method: no toji name, yeast, production details, nothing. But the flavor always goes a long way to revealing its secrets, with the Dewasansan namagenshu being as clearly "Dewasansan" as sake can get (in the same way that the Omachi and Yamadanishiki releases are equally faithful to ingredient). The super-smooth Benten water is also a clue: this spring is frequented by local visitors who appreciate its tranquil beauty as well as the exceptionally soft, low mineral content mouthfeel.

Prefecture: Yamagata
Rice: Dewasansan
Rice Polish: 50%
Yeast: n/a
Acidity: n/a
Water: n/a
SMV: n/a
Water: very soft Benten Spring water
Alcohol: 15%

In the words of Jim Rion, author of Discovering Yamaguchi Sake, a technical sake translator and co-hoster of the (excellent!) Sake Deep Dive podcast, “Ohmine Shuzo in Yamaguchi Prefecture is less a sake brewery and more a sake industry black box a’la Willy Wonka’s enigmatic chocolate factory.” Staff are “dressed in chic black designer uniforms,” the Bauhaus concrete construction is modernist and sleek, and the menu offers a wider assortment of lattes than sake. It’s also in the middle of nowhere, and while the design is open and airy, tours are not allowed nor is any technical detail offered. Sake is priced roughly 50% higher, spec for spec, than neighboring breweries, and it’s apparent that Japanese sake aficionados aren’t the target. Actually, in a way, we (American consumers) are.
A pink and blue neon sign (should I call it art?) hangs in the foyer, cryptically reading: 1882: BORN / 1955: DEAD / 2010: REBORN / 2018: SAKE AGAINST THE WORLD. This is as much backstory as you’ll get for a long-shuttered rural brewery, resurrected by the architect son who returned to Yamaguchi from NYC. 2018 brought a new facility and Stockholm Design Lab rebranding, while 2020 brought the fortuitous investment, creative vision and pop culture hype of Pharrel Williams and NIGO. Fortunately, the quality backs it up.

I must confess that when it comes to Ohmine I am rarely thinking in terms of food pairings, but instead vibe pairings: inviting friends over for an impromptu dance party. But if we push further, there is a lot to riff on. Play up the grapefruity bittterness by finishing karaage (or fried cauliflower) with a sprinkle of sansho pepper or yuzu salt. A light carpaccio of white fish drizzled in EVOO, or a watercress and citrus salad, are heightened and softened by Ohmine's sweet, fresh smoothness. Got silken tofu or oysters? Both are slick, creamy, weighty umami bites that you can aromatize with wasabi, ponzu and shiso, matching them right together with Ohmine's generous aromatics.