The nose is mild, sweet and soft, buttery, banana and brown sugar, like a slice of banana bread just out of the oven. Not at all ostentatious, ultra-fruity or high toned, and in this sense a subtle daiginjo. But the palate takes an unexpected turn into generosity, being stronger and broader than the nose would suggest. Bananas foster, sweet rice, amazake, vanilla frozen custard, shortbread, and nilla wafer cookies round it out. Super soft, slippery, expressive. It's luxurious in a way that only highly polished rice can achieve.
- Seimaibuai: 50%
- Yeast: 901
- Fermentation starter: Sojkujo
- Alcohol: 16%
There are two key features of this sake that keep me coming back. First, it's made in the famous sake-producing area, Fushimi, in Kyoto. Underground springs originating from Mount Momoyama supply Fushimi with a reliable source of medium-hard water and make it what it is: one of the top 2 most famous sake water sources in Japan ("the seven wells of Fushimi"). The medium-hard water, which lends itself well to a slow and steady fermentation, also gave rise to a local style of sake which is typically paired with the local pickles or with kaiseki ryori, Japan's traditional fine dining.
Okay, second: it's a daiginjo made with locally grown Bizen Omachi rice, which reflects the president's commitment to supporting locally grown rice as well as the historic relevance of this rare heirloom variety. Bizen omachi is an omachi subtype from Okayama, a wild selection of this pure heirloom strain. Because omachi is a relatively hard grain prone to cracking when polished, it's very rarely used for daiginjo sake. This is a unique feat of craftsmanship and implies both creative vision, and technical skill, on the part of the toji (and in-house polishing machine operator!)
Since 1673, Tamano Hikari Brewery has been working their hardest to brew supreme quality sake. Their motto is that "Good Sake comes from Good Rice" and so they polish all of their sake rice - obtained through contracts with private farmers - within the walls of their brewery. Tamanohikari were also one of the first in the post-war sake producing era to halt the use of additives like alcohol and sugar, but were also the first to halt use of preservatives, and basically reestablished Junmai sake. In 1980, they added Ginjo style sake to their repertoire. Now almost all the sake they produce is Junmai Ginjo style.