3 Sake Brands from Niigata You Should Try
When it comes to “sake (酒)”, what has been spotlighted in recent years in Japan is admittedly “Dassai (獺祭)”, which became a big hit several years ago.
The sake Dassai is brewed by a sake brewery in Yamaguchi Prefecture “Asahi-Shuzo (旭酒造)” and was presented to the former president of the United States Obama when he visited Japan.
Because of that, it is no exaggeration to say that at present Dassai is the most popular Sake brand in Japan.
But concerning the production area of sake, the prefecture where I live, Niigata is one of the most famous.
3 Sake Brands Niigata Boasts
Niigata is known for its delicious rice and prides itself on sake brands that are well-recognized nationwide.
Especially, the following 3 sake names are best known to sake lovers because of their excellent taste.
Kubota is the top-grade sake produced by “Asahi-Shuzo (朝日酒造)”, a sake brewery located in Nagaoka City, Niigata.
It has an exquisite taste and is said to have changed the image of sake. In fact, there are few sake fans that don’t know the brand name.
Kubota comes in 5 grades; “Manju (萬寿)”, “Hekiju (碧寿)”, “Kouju (紅寿)”, “Senju (千寿)”, and “Hyakuju (百寿)”, and Kubota Manju is the best.
Manju is a “Junmai Daiginjoshu (純米大吟醸酒)”, a type of sake made only with 3 ingredients; 50 percent or less polished rice, malted rice, and water, featuring perfectly balanced umami with a mild taste.
Koshi no Kanbai (越乃寒梅)
Brewed by “Ishimoto-Shuzo (石本酒造)” in Niigata City, Koshi no Kanbai is one of the most renowned sake brands in Japan. It was a phantom sake before, and since, it has been highly regarded.
Even now, the sake is hard to obtain but is so popular that the products in the series are sometimes traded at premium prices on internet auctions and online shopping sites.
As with Kubota, Koshi no Kanbai is available in several grades, and Koshi no Kanbai Kinmuku is the top-grade Junmai Daiginjoshu.
Kinmuku features a refined taste accompanied by a delicate fragrance called “Ginjoko (吟醸香)” specific to the sake “Ginjoshu (吟醸酒)”, including Dai-Ginjoshu.
Hakkaisan is a sake brand from “Hakkaisan-Shuzo (八海山酒造)” in Minami-Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. It is likened to a sibling of Koshi no Kanbai because the brewery has high brewing techniques.
The sake shown in the photo above, Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo is a “Junmai Ginjoshu (純米吟醸酒)”, a type of sake made from 50 to 60 percent polished rice, malted rice, and water.
The sake features a natural sweetness of rice, and when going down the throat, it gives a pleasant sensation.