A really delightful little one-cup that I (guilty as charged) originally bought for its adorable label, but was ultimately blown away by the delicious sake inside.
A really good example of Southern, Kyushu style sake as well-- richer, more unctuous, sweeter, good umami-- much like wine grown in hot regions, I feel like it tastes like it was made in a sunny place. Rice gets fatter, fermentations are happier, and you end up with this abundance of rich flavor.
There are a few things that make this cup sake unique. First is the adorable character, "Kumamon," for which the sake is named. Kumamon is the regional mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture: its official Sales Manager and Happiness Manager, Honorary Citizen of San Antonio, and YT dance star. Fortunately for us, Kumamon was licensed to Zuiyo to produce this cup sake and to help spread Kumamoto tourism around the world. Good thing for Kumamoto, this cup sake is delish and an excellent representation of the region.
Zuiyo, for a long time, exclusively produced and consumed akazake: red sake, which is a regional specialty of Kumamoto. Volcanic ash is added to sake during the brewing process historically to prevent spoilage but also, changes the color to a brick red. When the government started allowing Kumamoto consumers to import sake and allowing breweries to produce sake (as opposed to just akazake), Zuiyo was the first to sign up. Since then Zuiyo has been committed to perfecting a local style and closely involved with the advancement of the industry, including the development of Kumamoto Yeast, Yeast #9, in 1953: one of the most popular strains today, and likely the primary yeast in this cup sake.
The rice used in this cup is also local, a combination of table rice (Akimasari) and Kumamoto's regional sake rice (Hananishiki) polished to 75% and brewed in the region's ample soft water.
It's a lovely brewery, lovely story, and lovely sake all in one humble little cup.