Raw undiluted sake is the brew masters dream put in bottle form, etched in Japanese calligraphy - Genshu. Most sake you see on the market is diluted down and tweaked for taste by adding water and brewers alcohol; industry standard dictates that sake should be at around 15 to 16% alcohol. The naked essence of sake fully matured will yield at around 20% or more of alcohol, the highest naturally occurring alcoholic beverage in the industry.
Basically, we don't want to get you too drunk in order to enjoy Japanese sake, and neither do we want to pay more tax because of higher than standard alcohol content in our beverage, so some compromises have to be made. Genshu is rarely sold on a large scale, so whenever you have a chance to visit sake breweries in Japan do so, and try sake in its most natural form, especially undiluted sake.
|yellow caps and kikijokos and squeezers|
Why travel all the way out to visit a brewery just for sake when I can either order online or buy at a store...? Sake that has been bottled has additional carbon dioxide added again and has therefore been exposed to different pressure, temperature, and sunlight. Bottles do offer some protection against UV, but not enough, and it's not like you would even notice a difference in the quality of the sake unless you were a purist... At this brewery ( won't list the name), I was sampling Genshu and although the sake was bottled and yellow-capped for the tasting, they weren't sealed which means the sake was taken directly from the cold storage fermentation tanks and placed right on the table the morning I arrived there. No finer sake poured fresh can ever be matched! Over 100 types of genshu were sampled.
Another reason to visit breweries is to get away from the city. Most great breweries are deep in the backwoods of Japan with only a few in micro urban cities. I do not particularly like drinking with Tokyo types and folks who cannot hold their own alcohol, so I avoid crowded places. Drink for taste, not to get drunk. Socializing as long as there is edification is good, not mindless chatter over meaningless topics. On my most recent trip I was, and am always blessed to nomunicate with local Jukujo.
|Genshu Lovely in her purity|
Sake in its raw undiluted form is full of body and character, even the aromatics give off rare and alluring scents. Lavender, flower water, acacia, some herbaceous notes here and there, just to name a few are what can be picked up from flute or a full bell-shaped wine glass. Visually, Genshu is quite viscous with long legs stretching down the side of the glassware. She's got a silky sheen and smooth all the way down and fully imbued with mysticism and religious aestheticism of generations, it's this continuity of tradition that is reflected in every single living thing in Japan.
Keep in mind that Genshu is where it's at, and you need to try as much as you can while supplies last, at least so that you can experience that natural essence of the brew master's dream!