Finally we came across an excellent Junmai Gingo Genshu called “G sake”!
Over the years, the number of sakes brewed in the U.S. has been mostly non-premium sake. We tasted a fair number of them and until recently, none of them has been really remarkable. Gekkeikan Haiku was our favorite for a while basically by default–it was the best of the bunch. After our recent trips to Japan, we realized the extent to which domestic (US) sakes fell short of the level of premium Japanese brewed sake (although many Japanese brewed sake are not that good either). We finally found a sake which is on a par with top ranking sake brewed in Japan. This one is called “G sake” from SakeOne. This is a Junmai Ginjou Genshu 純米吟醸原酒. Three selected batches were blended and aged for 10 months (I assume this is a cold aging process).
The nose has a nice floral with mineral note, very pleasant. The mouth feel, when first in your mouth, is nicely smooth, silky and slightly viscous. Very clean taste and nice honeysuckle flavor lingers in mid palate with slight hint of sweetness and ending into long finish with some hint of spices. Despite its high alcohol content of 18%, no appreciable boozy taste (although we felt it afterwards). We tasted this chilled and we may taste it again at room temperature but this should not be drunk warm. Even other sakes from SakeOne have improved and we hope, for the next and future brew years, they will deliver this level of quality or better. Brew year is denoted with prefix “BY” followed by a number which represents the year of the present emperors reign i.e “Heisei” 平成 year. For example “BY20” means the brew year was the 20th year of the present emperor’s “heisei” reign. For those who tend not to think in terms of heisei years, that would be 2008, since the Heisei emperor’s reign started in 1989. (Now wasn’t that straight forward?). I assume the one we tasted was BY21 or could be BY20.
Compared to Japan, the sake available in the U.S. is limited and good ones imported from Japan are expensive. Now, there are quite a few sake specialized stores including some on the internet. Regular on-line or brick-and-mortar wine stores do carry some sake but the choices are very limited. Most of the sake imported from Japan is relatively large scale production with few exceptions. Among the sakes brewed in Japan and imported to the U.S. which we tasted over the years, we like “Mu” 無 junmai dai-ginjou 純米大吟醸 from Yaegaki 八重垣 Brewery in Hyougo 兵庫, Japan. In terms of cost performance and clean taste, we thought, it was the best available. We could often find “Mu” at the nearby Japanese grocery store, however, markup in price was quite substantial. We now order it through the internet from New York/New Jersey. More recently, one of the local liquor stores start carrying “Mu” (we special ordered this once before from this place. It may be that after our special order they started stocking “Mu” regularly). After the discovery of “G sake”, we now have two house sakes, “Mu” and “G sake”. The characteristics of both sakes are quite different and we now have two nice choices; one brewed in the U.S.!