Some of the breweries, especially the smaller and lesser-known ones, are heading into a bumpy future. Fortunately, among these breweries, some are already trying to explore bigger stages like – the world. More importantly, there is a need to add value to their product and raise their sales.
I had a chance to try the brand-new “GYOKUSO Gi” Junmai Daiginjo Genshu. Chigonoiwa, a brewery situated in Gifu prefecture’s Toki city, produced this sake. Most of you might have not heard of this brewery, but they have been in Hong Kong for numerous exhibitions. Chigonoiwa can very much be considered as a typical Gifu local sake (Jizake, 地酒) brewery. Their Junmai Ginjo Genshu and Namazake are all best-sellers in the local area, while this “GYOKUSO Gi” is an overseas-limited edition.
To say it is a high-class sake, not only does its price reflect that, the sake rice used is Yamadanishiki with polish ratio down to 19% remaining. That certainly gives out a ‘gorgeous vibe.’ It comes with a mechanical bottle stopper and wooden box which are considered standards for premium sake. However, all is worthless to mention if the sake itself does not taste good.
Once I poured it out from the bottle, I can sense a sharp yet delicate aroma that resembles apple, pear, and melon. The sake is brewed with Gifu prefecture’s own G2 yeast. Although sake does not have terroirs as distinctive as in wine, this sake does its best to preserve Gifu’s character. G2 is a locally developed yeast, it can ferment stably under lower temperatures. Its content of ethyl caproate is three times more than those in G yeast, no wonder it has such a pleasant nose, G2 yeast also gives the sake a sharper finish too. In addition, it is made with ultra-soft water, so overall the sake is smooth, concentrated, and fresh. The rice polishing ratio goes down to 19%, tastes clean yet retaining the delicate elegance of Yamadanishiki. The alcohol content is between 17% and 18%, considerably higher compared to usual products, but the alcohol feel is not prominent until the finish, hence it does not stand out too awkwardly.
On the day of tasting, I had prepared two types of cheese for pairing. The pairing with cheddar cheese was okay, the cheese became sweeter. On the other hand, the taste of blue cheese is a hinge stronger, it only makes sense that the sake is over-powered. I reckon sashimi (raw fish) or salt-grilled fish would pair better with the sake.
I have tried quite a number of low polishing-ratio high-end sake in the market, but for consumers across the globe to reach a consensus of how super premium sake should be, there is still a long way to go.
Based in Hong Kong / Official trainer of Dassai / Experienced sake educator (WSET, SSI) / JSA Sake Diploma / International sake judge