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Takatenjin Tokubetsu Honjozo Sword of the Sun

Takatenjin Tokubetsu Honjozo Sword of the Sun

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To me, this is a really fun one and a great argument for the virtues of Honjozo, an oft-maligned style which has a small amount of neutral spirit added just prior to pressing. 

It has a round, buttery nose-- sweet almond and marzipan. Then on the palate you get echoes of the nose: sweet cream, butter, and marzipan, but also this lovely fruit. White peach, canteloupe and other sweet orange melons, white grapefruit, asian pear, light banana (a just-ripe banana). Something interesting too, a bit of cucumber and mint. Like a lovely midsummer fruit salad with canteloupe, cucumber and banana, tossed in mint. White chocolate and sweet milk froyo are also there, dancing in the background.

Because of the soft, rounded flavors, I am inclined to see it as a soft sake overall, but it also has some background structure: a crisp minerality giving it backbone, and a dry finish. 

In a professional tasting, the importer sales rep argued that it's a gin drinker's sake because it has green herbs, botanicals, cucumber, and green melon qualities. I'm going to be real with you-- I don't get that kind of vibe from it, even if I share a lot of those notes. To me the acidity is low, and it's round and soft, but there's also a tension against a mineral and lightly herbaceous back-end. It's not a brisk, juniper, pepper, cooling vibe like I think of with gin. But maybe you'll disagree?

Stats:
Rice: Yamada Nishiki (for the koji) & Haenuki (for the main mash)
Seimaibuai (polishing level): 60%
Fermentation Starter: Sokujo 
Alcohol 15.5%
Grade: Honjozo (polished to 70% or less, with a small amount of distilled spirit added. A stylistic choice, not a quality/financial one).

Brewery:
Doi Shuzo, founded in 1868, is known for environmentally friendly practices including solar power, on-site water treatment, and using renewable resources.  Shizuoka is located near Mt. Fuji and is famous for having the most sunshine year-round. This abundance of sunshine, and being a solar powered shuzo, inform the brand name, "Sword of the Sun." Shizuoka is also famous for its wasabi fields, tea production, eel and other seafood, and of course high concentration of excellent sake brewers: all 4 a consequence of the region's excellent, pure water.