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Kuramoto Diary vol.498: "For those who strive to become a 'Master Drinker'" by Hiroshi SAKURAI

For those of you who read my last Kuramoto diary, here's some advice from a Kuramoto.

If you are not confident that you will be able to drink an entire traditional 1.8L sake bottle in 3 to 4 days, avoid buying a bottle of this size. Instead, prefer sake bottles of 720ml or 300ml because the surface of the sake in the bottle will be exposed to less oxygen and therefore will not oxidize as much.

Put the sake bottle in the fridge when you are finished drinking it. Of course, you might be able to easily store a 1.8L bottle of sake in the fridge, but you also have to consider all the other perishables to store in there too. At this point, a serious civil war concerning the fridge could break out at any moment, and of course the “sake drinking team” will probably lose miserably. Considering that, smaller sized bottles are better in that respect as well.

Even so, many people might say that a 1.8L sake bottle is eventually cheaper than smaller bottles, but in terms of quality that's not entirely true.

There are times when I order a bottle of Dassai at an izakaya or something and thought, "Well, that's a bit of disappointment”. Then when I order another one, I would think to myself “Oh, thank goodness, that's the true flavor and aroma of Dassai”.

So what’s the difference between these two bottles? Well, the first bottle had been opened a while ago with only a little left in the bottle. The second bottle was just opened at that time.

We have done all sorts of experiments in our company. If you leave about 180ml of sake in a 1.8L bottle in the refrigerator for more than a week, it is clear that the sake inside will oxidize. So you can easily imagine what will happen if you leave this bottle at room temperature.

That's why drinking a traditional 1.8L bottle of sake at home is not actually “cheaper”, if you think of it in terms of the money spent and the sake quality you will get.

So I recommend that you buy a small bottle. If 300ml is still too small for you, you can buy a 720ml bottle and enjoy some of it on the first day. Then, put it in the fridge as it is. If you move it to a 180ml bottle like the person who wrote to us last time, it's even better, but we all know that sometimes we just aren’t motivated enough to go that far. (Actually, no. Let's take the liberty of saying that this is what we, sake lovers actually do!

Now, I have a favor to ask you. I would like you to enjoy as much as possible the same sake quality. For that, it has to be gone within a week. The thing to avoid would be when there is only about one glass left in the bottle and it stays in the fridge for a long time.

Sure, sometimes you want to enjoy some wine or Shochu, or even have a day off drinking. Sometimes you drop by a liquor store on the way home, and they recommend some tasty Toyo Bijin and Kaiun.

I mean, sometimes things don’t just go the way you want to, right? In such cases, you can always use the leftover sake for cooking. Some people think it's a waste to use good sake for cooking, but trust me: it is not a waste to use it for cooking.

Also, you could mix it with soy sauce for your sashimi! I hate being born in Yamaguchi, where the local soy sauce is just too sweet. I have tried to find a soy sauce that isn't too sweet, but when I do, it's too spicy. So I sometimes mix about a third of this leftover sake with soy sauce and it is absolutely perfect for fresh white fish sashimi.

This is the kind of thing that makes loose drinkers who don’t care about “mastering sake drinking” enjoy life in a fun and delicious manner. Again, life is a waste if it isn't fun. Even if it's just a matter of putting the food you got at the store on a really nice plate rather than the plastic container it came with, if you are having a nice sake along with your favorite sake cup it makes for a richer dining experience.


There's not enough rice bran"

On a side note, there’s not enough rice bran. Dassai uses Yamada Nishiki rice that’s been polished to an average of 35%, or in other words, makes about 6,000 tons of rice bran on average. Because of the corona virus, we had cut the amount of sake produced in April and May, so it's actually not a surprise that we have not got enough rice bran.

Much of the rice bran from Dassai is purchased by major food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient for mirin and other foods. Thankfully, in recent years, people finally seem to understand the superiority of Yamada Nishiki rice bran as a food ingredient, and the unit price is now more than three times what it used to be.

We are really thankful for this, but even so we are out of it…

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