The folks at the Kamenan Shuzo kura are famous for two things……they are the second Southern-most kura in Japan….established in 1916 on the West Coast of Kyushu Island’s Kumamoto prefecture…..and secondly….those evil bastards might just have found a way to trick me into consuming that most vile compound…..brown rice.
The Kamenan Shuzo Genmaishu is a Junmai Genmai-zake….Junmai as we know = 100% rice wine sake with no added nasties or ethyl alcohol and Genmai-zake quite literally = Brown Rice Sake.
Genmai-zake is a bit trickier to produce than other styles…..Brown rice is near impossible to ferment unless it is sprouted…which was actually done in the old days…but one cool thing here is the rice polishing is at 100%….meaning nothing has been removed from the grain at all. Instead the husk is split to expose the inner grain…..very tricky indeed.
It needs a bit more care in the kura as well…for starters you’ll be needing more rice….approximately 10% more than the polished styles…as an aside the rice used here is organic Reiho which the kura farms with the help of ducks that roam the rice fields keeping down the weeds and bugs.
The style also requires longer soaking and steaming times in the kura…..a highly polished rice grain will only need a few minutes soaking…..here, the soaks for the Genmai-zake are more in the order of 46-48 hours, followed by a double steaming process which takes a further 1.5 to 2 hours.
A bit more on the location….. Kyushu is the third largest island in Japan, lying way down in the South-Westerly region. It’s historical regional name was Saikaidō, literally the “West Sea Circuit” and included Kyushu and its surrounding islands. These days Kyushu consists of seven prefectures. The Kunamoto prefecture is located in the central part of Kyushu with part of its boundary being the Ariake Inland Sea….an area of great natural beauty, 70% of its area is still untouched natural forests and it is home to the famous active volcano, Mt Aso.
The Genmaishu has a rice polishing of 100%, the alcohol is 15%, the acidity comes in at 2.0 and it is recommended that it is served at room temperature.
Pale straw gold in colour and showing amazingly complex aromas of brown sugar, tonka bean, toffee, vanilla, almonds, rice and quince with a heady mix of fruit-cake spices and just a waft of chocolate.
On the palate it is just off-dry with great tension from the acidity as it sit’s beautifully balanced on the sweet/savoury fulcrum. Plenty of texture and weight there also which is usually a precursor of a sake that shows great potential for cellaring and will gain complexity with some time in bottle.
Great complexity on the palate also….the flavours are defined and assured with brown sugar, quince liqeur, roasted nuts, vanilla, apricot essence, tonka bean and plenty of toffeed/caramel notes. Again heady fruit-cake spiciness on the back palate with a lengthy,savoury exit. Great stuff!
Price: $66 – Closure: Screwcap – Alcohol: 15% – Source: Tasting – Importer: Black Market Sake