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Yamagata Masamune

This week’s nihonshu hails from Yamagata, a prefecture in northern Japan  known for its good sake, an excellent rice grain called Hainuki, and gorgeous onsen, especially during winter.


Other things worthy of mention would be  my favorite Top Stops in Yamagata post which gives a little more detail about this part of Japan.  So without further ado I would like to introduce this week’s sake.


The brewery is called Mitobe Sake Brewery in Tendou city, an area known for having blisteringly cold winters and excellent soba noodles.  Some of the best tasting  soba come from this part of Japan, a place that prides itself off of using its own homegrown wheat to make the soba.   The same can’t be said from other regions, especially in West Japan where most wheat is imported from Australia.  Tendou is famous for making true Edo style soba using the time honored tradition of hand rolling and making the soba from scratch.

Anyway,  the sake this week is called, as the title says, Yamagata Masamune.  There really isn’t much of a story behind the name, but the taste, wow, I loved it.


The sake meter value reads at plus 2 at 1.6 acidity.  This is a Junmai Ginjo Nama.


The flavor characteristics were surprisingly dry and fruity; full range of flavors and aromas here.  Lovely and elegant are the two best words I could come up with, which is something along the lines that other drinkers have said about this sake, too.  The nose is very complex though, can’t quit pick out a nose on this one, but very pleasant though.  The initial taste is very nice, but requires more drinking and smelling.  Overall I am madly in love with this sake because it hides it’s true character at the first sip, and then begins to open later on.  It makes you want to drink it more and it’s very hard to put down.  I tried switching to another sake, but quickly found myself returning back to her.


The tail on this sake whips the back of the throat, in other words you feel it at the back of the throat when it goes down. 


Immediately, thoughts of Ms. Ishikawa, a native of Yamagata, came to my mind: A Jukujo Class Japanese woman.   Blue looks good on her, plus it matches the bottle.   Her overall modest and down to earth character lend a sense of charm and allure to her that’s unmatched by most of your modern Japanese women of today.  She wears almost no make-up and her smile is healing.  The music I’m listening to right now is called “Obsessed”  by Mariah Carey. Can you tell?

yamagata bijin

On a scale of one to five I rate this one a full five.  Why?  Because it’s complexity makes it unique and places it in a class all of its own.  Some sake that have distinguishable flavor profiles tend to get old quickly, or loose something the more you drink it….case by case.  


Yamagata Masamune is definitely a good sake to recommend, or should at least be tried once.  If you attend any sake tasting event then make sure to note this brewery and try all of their sake.  You won’t be disappointed. 


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