This very traditional sake may come from the home of Kobe beef, but its aromatic and fruity style is far more suited to sipping as an aperitif or alongside fatty fish such as mackerel or yellowfin tuna, or maybe even a cheeseboard or agedashi tofu. Sipping chilled to around 10°C from a Sherry glass, Shirakabe Gura Kimoto Ginjo reveals notes of mango yoghurt, crème brûlée, apple puree, pear sorbet, banana, raisin, star anise and just the lightest touch of an intriguing umami funk.
This Shirakabe Gura Kimoto is a premium fragrant sake – hence the Ginjo style – handcrafted using Gohyaku Mangoku rice. This type of rice is considered one of the finest for sake, the only reason it doesn’t have quite the prestige of Yamada Nishiki is because it’s more brittle, and therefore more difficult to mill. But Takara Brewery are highly skilled and have polished this to a ratio of 60%, i.e. 40% of each rice grain has been carefully whittled away. It has then been brewed in the Kimoto-style – a rare, labour-intensive and very traditional method that has taken hundreds of years to perfect. Consider this the natural wine equivalent to sake – a new fashion for ancient methods. Most sake uses commercially available lactic acid and cultivated yeast to make the starter (shubo), as this is quick and easy to regulate and replicate. Kimoto, however, allows the natural yeast and bacteria that live in the brewery and the air to drive the process. Although it takes twice as long, this results in a richer and more complex sake, with far more sense of terroir. Sometimes the old ways really are the best.