Well rested after a weeks holiday in New Zealand it’s time for a note on a very special sake…..the 1978 Omi Shuzo Õmiji Kijõshu.
The Omi Shuzo kura was founded in 1917 and sits on the Eastern side of Lake Biwa in Higashiomi……which in turn is situated in the Shiga prefecture. The Shiga prefecture is part of the Kansai region of Honshu island. Before the prefectural system was established Shiga was known as Õmi Province (and Lake Biwa, which makes up around one-sixth of the total area of Shiga Prefecture was also referred to as Õmi).
Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan and the lake and inflowing rivers have fantastic water purity….which of course is just the ticket for making top drawer sake. The water from these rivers is very soft and due to this, the sakes from Shiga often display a mellow, sweeter tone. The alluvial plains around Lake Biwa have a long history of high, quality rice production and the harvests in the Shiga Prefecture are generically known as Õmimai (Õmi Rice).
This particular sake is designated as a Junami Kijõshu Koshu……so Junmai = 100% pure rice sake with no additives or tweaks, Kijõshu = “Noble-Brew Sake” and Koshu = aged. To make Kijõshu, the Toji adds a full-bodied sake from previous years to the still fermenting batch instead of distilled alcohol….this brings the fermentation to an early halt.
The Kojimai is Akebono from Okayama Prefecture and the Kakemai is local Nihonbare from Shiga. Rice polishing is 60%, Alcohol is 17%, the acidity is 1.8 and it is recommended that the 1978 Omi Shuzo Õmiji Kijõshu be served chilled……a bit of a chill lifts the acidity and makes this amazing, rich sake a bit sprightlier and leaner.
Dark, burnished gold in the glass with headspiningly, intense aromas of grilled nuts, toffee, sweet soy sauce, beef broth, figs, sesame, dark, bitter chocolate, porcini powder and Asian spice….one of the best descriptors I’ve heard of this sake is it’s like “walking down the dried goods aisle at Asian grocery”.
Amazing depth, complexity and richness on the palate with some enchanting….almost Oloroso sherry-like notes……again grilled nuts, caramel and burnt toffee with hints of Asian spice, dark chocolate, beef jus, sweet soy, mirin, sesame and figs with some shitake brothy elements on the fantastic, lingering finish. It’s round in the mouth with a supple, velvety texture and for all it’s heady beauty there’s plenty of focus from the acidity pulling it into shape. Cracking stuff.
Price: $220 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 17% – Source: Tasting – Importer: Blackmarket Sake