White tea, pine needles, white pepper, pink peppercorn, green apple, fines herbes...it's lightly sweet, very floral, delicately ricey, with a really subtle umami.
- Prefecture: Hokkaido
- Rice: non-specified Hokkaido (likely Suisei & Ginpu)
- Polishing: 45%
- SMV: +3 (dry)
- Yeast: House
Every year in winter, Taisetsu gathers community members to build a giant igloo for aging sake at their headquarters in Hokkaido. Yes, this happens. Sake is then moved into the igloo, by the vat, so that it may age and soften gently at sub-freezing temperatures well into Spring and Summer. (Hakkaisan's Junmai Daiginjo "Yukimuro," also from a cold and snowy region--Uonoma, Nagano--is made in a similar manner but aged for 3 years instead of ~6 months, and is daiginjo instead of just ginjo. But if you like one, you'd probably like the other, too).
In addition to having a great story, being an awesome value, and available in both 300ml and 720ml sizes, it's delicious and the flavor really channels the cooling notes from whence it comes. Licorice, pine, white pepper, pink peppercorn, green apple, mastic, fines herbes...it's lightly sweet, very floral, with a really subtle umami. I love this as a refreshing aperitif, and as a Russian, honestly anywhere I'd consider pairing vodka... canapes, caviar, smoked fish, dilly potatoes, what we call "zakuski": chilled, usually savory, appetizers, which ideally are made in such quantity and variety that they totally cover the serving table. Consider it for a coast day where you plan to pick up a couple dozen oysters and chilled seafood, and serve them with lemon, aioli, and horseradish.
This is, to me, one answer to the question: does sake have terroir? Yes, in a manner of speaking. In very few regions of Japan can you build a 6-month igloo for maturing your sake, made from Hokkaido rice, with help from the local Asahikawa community.
This is also a 2013 winner of the kanzake (warm sake) award in the Junmai Ginjo category. You might not think it on first glance, but Taisetsu does very well warm. Again, in its own way-- a reflection of the local terroir. To be delicious served warm is a necessity in Asahikawa, Hokkaido.
A dear favorite of mine and I hope you, too.