The harvest season is here, and what a bummer crop it is! Around the country we are enjoying the rich array of nature’s abundance; tables heave with with fresh produce, new season rice, ripe fruit, and some of the fattiest, tastiest fish of the year. Autumn is indeed shokuyoku no aki – the season of hearty appetites.
Autumn has also long been regarded as the prime season for drinking sake, and the reason is that as the temperature chills and the leaves turn golden, crimson colours, breweries around the country finally release their fully matured brews.
The fresh autumnal sake is known as hiyaoroshi, and sometimes, more poetically, as aki-agari – ‘the autumn yield’. And like the madness surrounding the release of Beaujolais Nouvelle, there is always a lot of eager anticipation for the arrival of hiyaoroshi, which is officially released on September 9th. Hiyaoroshi, refers to sake that has been pasteurised only once before it is stored & then matured throughout summer. It is prized for its harmony of lively nama freshness and ripe autumnal flavours… the perfect beverage for pairing with the season’s harvest fare.
This month at Fuglen we will be celebrating the bounty of the season with a tasting flight of three rich and settled autumnal brews: Yamawa Junmai-Ginjo Hiyaoroshi, Yamagata Masamune Junmai-Ginjo Aki-agari and Senkin Akatonbo Yamahai Kame no O Hiyaoroshi. Cheers!
Yamawa Junmai-Ginjo Hiyaoroshi
山和 純米吟醸 ひやおろし
A refreshing and easy to drink sake with a mellow, savoury nose and a smooth, supple flavour that lingers in the finish. Its nicely pitched acidity make it an the ideal companion for comforting autumnal fare. Drink it straight from the fridge and then enjoy the subtle shifts in flavour and aroma as it warms to room temperature.
Yamawa Shuzo, Miyagi – 山和酒造、宮城県
Sake rice: Nagano Miyama Nishiki
Rice polishing rate: 50%
原料米: 長野県産 美山錦
Yamagata Masamune Akiagari Junmai-Ginjo
山形正宗 秋あがり 純米吟醸
A gentle, refreshing fragrance, with faint notes of ripe fruit. The aroma is beautifully complemented by the calm, sweet richness of the Yamada Nishiki rice, which swells and reverberates across your palate. And the finish – ah! It ends with the clean, sword like cut which is so characteristic of Yamagata Masamune’s style. Carefully matured at low temperatures, this sake has a wonderful harmony of freshness and soft, settled flavour.
Mitobe Shuzo, Yamagata – 水戸部酒造、山形県
Sake rice: Banshu A-Grade Yamada Nishiki
Rice polishing rate: 55%
Yeast: Kumamoto Kobo (Also known as #9)
酵母: 熊本酵母 (９号)
Senkin Yamahai* Kame no O Hiyaoroshi
仙禽 山廃 亀の尾 ひやおろし
Enter the dragon(fly)! The Akatonbo Hiyaoroshi is the latest creation of Senkin’s genius Usui brothers. And what a stunning debut it is. Comforting notes of vanilla custard, caramel & dried fruits emanate from the glass and infuse harmoniously with the rich & mature flavour. The palate is juicy with Senkin’s trademark sweet-acidity, and while its got some impact from the alcohol, its a punch with a velvet glove. Warm and nostalgic, this sake evokes images of an autumnal crimson sunset.
*Yamahai-shikomi is a traditional brewing method in which the yeast starter is made in a way that allows wild yeast and bacteria to be present, for a time, in the fermenting mash. It often produces a gamier, rustic flavour.
Senkin Shuzo, Tochigi – 仙禽酒造、栃木県
Sake rice: Tochigi grown Premium Grade Kame no O
Rice polishing rate: 80%