Shizuoka Sake Tasting 1/1~9: Morimoto Brewery/Sayogoromo

Morimoto Brewery, Sayogoromo, Tokubetsu Junmai

Whereas most brewers in Shizuoka Prefecture concoct soft, almost feminine, sake, Hidetoshi Morimoto, Masterbrewer/owner of Morimoto Brewery in Kikugawa City has often taken the notorious role of a maverick to the delight of lovers of characterful brews bordering on the impertinent.

The latest of his creations is definitely out of the ordinary in this Prefecture famed for making some of the best (popular?) sake in Japan, especially when ones notices that Hidetoshi Morimoto doesn’t bother much about giving all kinds of information usually found in this Prefecture.

Morimoto Brewery, Sayogoromo, Tokubetsu Junmai.

Rice milled down to 60%
Alcohol: 15 degrees

Clarity: Very clear and clean.

Colour: Faint golden hue.

Aroma: Fruity and complex: bananas, pineapple, alcohol, almonds.

Body: Smooth and solid.

Taste: Strong junmai attack. Great combination offruitiness and acidity. Shortish tail. Complex: bananas and flowers.
Abruptly ends on a dry almond note.
Holds well with any food.

Overall: Unusually “macho” sake for Shizuoka, typical of Morimoto brewery sakes.
Great with strong food, especially yakitori and nabe.
Drunk on its on, will please lovers of strong and characteful sakes.
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Morimoto Brewery: Jizake Kobou, Sayogoromo, Junmai Shiboritate Genshu (unaltered)

morimoto-kobo

Mr. Morimoto in Kikugawa City shows his individuality as far as his Brewery is concerned. He actually calls it “Koubou”, that is “Factory”
Despite this appellation, he ptoduces some extraordinary nectars!

Morimoto Brewery: Jizake Kobou, Sayogoromo, Junmai Shiboritate Genshu (unaltered)
Rice milled down to 60%
Alcohol: 17~18 degrees
Dryness: + 4.0
Acidity: 1.9 (high for Shizuoka)
Bottled in January 2009

Clarity: Very clear
Colour:Transparent
Aroma: Powerful. Alcohol. Fruity: pineapple. Memories of licorice.
Body: Velvety
Taste: Softer attack than expected. Well-rounded. Shortish tail. Complex. Fruity: pineapple, vanilla, bananas, bitter chocolate. Junmai tingle mellowing into a dry finish.
Unusual but welcome acidity for a Shizuoka sake.

Overall: A soft, well-rounded sake in spite of high alcohol.
Becoming more complex with the next glass. Need for second and third glass tp really appreciate.
Characteristic sake from a maverick brewer!
———————
IKIOI (blended premium sake!)

morimoto-ikioi

In this maverick sake brewing prefecture you are bound to repeat the same comment for about almost all its brewers, but Hidetoshi Morimoto in Kikuagawa City is considered THE maverick by his own peers!
Whereas blending is fairly common as far as cheap mass-produced sake, premium sake blending is almost unheard of. Well, Mr. Morimoto, both to satisfy a special request from his fans and his own thirst for improvisation blended some of his premium sake brews for a mere total of 120, making it already a rarity of the past. I got hold of one through pure luck and I can hear Melinda and Etsuko moaning! LOL.
Jen might come up with the comment that they blend the best Champagne, so why not sake. I would be tempted to agree to the point I have often called sake brewed in Shizuoka the Sake of Japan (I’m asking for trouble!)

Morimoto Brewery: IKIOI
Rice of all blended sake milled down to 55%. Qualifies for Ginjo, although knowing Hidetoshi Morimoto, he would say, “bah, just a honjozo by miles!”
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Blended in Autumn 2008

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Golden tinge
Aroma: Elegant, complex, fruity: banana, vanilla
Body: Velvety

Taste: Strong attack backed by pleasant alcohol. Dry. Complex.
Fruity: bananas, coffee beans, almonds with a dry finish.
Turns drier with food with memories of almonds, bitter chocolate, vanilla and licorice

Overall: A typical sake from Morimoto Brewery: unusual, elegant, impertinent, uncompromising!
Sublime with food. Would make for an extravagant aperitif or digestif with any food!
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Morimoto Brewery: Yatte Mita, Junmai, Homare Fuji

I just cannot help coming back to my “roots”, as Morimoto Brewery was the first I ever commented on! A long love story indeed, which can finish only my own demise!

Morimoto Brewery: “Yatte Mita” Nessei
This was the first time that Hitoshi Morimoto created a sake with only Homare Fuji rice grown in Shizuoka Prefecture, hence the title “Yatte Mita” (I tried it!)
Very little information as usual, and I did have to fork out a little of myself!

Rice: Homare Fuji (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Junmai
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Sake brewed in 2006, bottled in June 2008
Limited to: 180 bottles

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Almost transparent
Aroma: Fruity, vanilla, banana
Body: Velvety
Taste: Shortish tail
Extremely complex and fruity: almonds, vanilla, coffee beans, bitter chocolate, banana.
Elegant and pleasant.
Lingers longer on palate with food.
Pleasantly warming alcohol.

Overall: A sake appealing to all.
Elegant and very easy to drink.
Quite a performance considering it was made primarily with Shizuoka-grown rice.
Extremely complex, constantly asking questions. Highly unpredictable.
Coming up with a different facet with every sip.
—————————-
Sayogoromo Tokubetsu Honjozo

It’ s been a while since I could grab a bottle from my favourite Brewery, Morimoto in Kikugawa.
When I saw this particular one in Kakegawa JR Station, I just didn’t hesitate!

Morimoto Brewery: Sayogoromo Tokubetsu Honjozo

Rice milled down to 55% (extravagant)
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear
Colour: Golden tinge
Aroma: Fruity, biscuits, almonds
Body: Velvety
Taste: Short tail. Nice alcohol. Fruity and sweetish.
Complex: Almonds, bitter chocolate, bananas.
Drinks well and keeps steady with food.

Overall: Great balance. Sweetish but not overwhelming.
Extravagant for Tokubetsu Honjozo (millage down to 55%!)
Drinks like an ice-cream when chilled!

—————————-
Morimoto Brewery Junmai Nama Genshu “From The Tank”

Morimoto Brewery and its owner/master brewer Mr. Hitoshi Morimoto in Kikugawa City have always been a great favourite of mine for the maverick approach to sake brewing.
The other day, Nagashima Saketen called me again to mention an interesting arrival. I did not hesitate!
I found myself holding a bottle with no label, just a small “tag” and the usual information on a white sticker!
Melinda would love it, considering this a very similar sake to the one I sent her for the first time last year!

Morimoto Brewery Junmai Nama Genshu “From The Tank”

Alcohol: 17.6 degrees
Rice milled down to 65%
Dryness: +6
Acidity: 1.7
Yeast: No 901

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light, fleeting. Pineapple, almonds, melon

Body: velvety

Taste: strong and pleasant alcohol backed up by typical junmai tingle.
Short tail. Fruity: pineapple, bananas, almonds, melon.

Overall: superb sake
Drinks so easily with food.
Comparatively very short tail for genshu.
Inviting for the next sip.
+6 dry taste tastes almost sweet at first to turn dry on palate quickly.
——————————–
Morimoto Brewery: H. Morimoto-Secret Unfiltered

hama-tasting3.jpg

It’s been a long time since I have personally tasted a bottle (they tend to be forwarded to special friends!) from Morimoto Brewery!
He is, and probably will be for a long time to be, my favourite Brew Master! His sake are a true reflection of his maverick character: highly personal and full of hidden treasures!
Incidentally this was the second bottle tasted at by the Hamamatsu Geeks on March 21st.

Morimoto Brewery: H. Morimoto-Secret Unfiltered
Rice: Homare Fuji (Shizuoka)
Rice milled down to 60%
Muroka/Unfiltered
Genshu Junmai/unaltered
Alcohol: 17~18%
Dryness: +5.5
Acidity: 2.0 (high for Shizuoka)
Limited production: 540 l.

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: dry, discreet and fruity/melon, pineapple, bananas, apricot

Body: fluid

Taste: Fruity/melon, almonds.
Junmai tingle, strong genshu impression.
Coffee beans and bitter choclate appearing later.
Short tail. More coffee beans with further sips.

Overall: Strong sake. Fits so well to any food.
Foreigners agreed it tastes like a strong white wine.
Would bring it to a blind tasting back at home in France!
———————
Sayogoromo-Nama-Tokubetsu Honjozo
sayogoromo-th.jpg

Continuing with the 300ml bottles, this one is Sayogoromo by my favourite Brewery, Morimoto Brewery in Kikugawa City.
It is a “nama” (unpasteurized) tokubetsu Honjozo brewed in April 2007 with the rice milled down to a slightly extravagant 55%

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light & discreet, ricey

Body: Both light and sharp

Taste: Liquorice/coffee beans/Bitter chocolate/roasted almonds

Overall: Very pleasant nd easy to drink. No tingle in spite of its “nama” nature.
Goes extremely well with any food. Could be appreciated on its own
Dryness increases with the next sip.
———————-
“H. Morimoto sakuretsu Karakuchi”
morimoto-dry.jpg
Mr. H. Morimoto (Morimoto-Sayogoromo Brewery in Kikugawa City) has this great habit of regularly coming up with limited editions you can only grab if you have warned your reGular sake shops to be on the look out!
So when Koizumi Saketen called me I did not even discuss and replied I would come soon to pick one.

This particular brew is limited to a bare 300, which means it will be the last time I’ll see it.
Nothing is indicated, but I’m pretty sure it is a honjozo.
It was brewed in June 2006
It is simply called “H. Morimoto” and nicknamed “Sakuretsu Karakuchi” or “Bursting dry”.
Dryness: +13 (not the record but very near!)
Acidity: 1.2 (low)
Yeast: No 901

Clarity: very clear

Colour: golden tinge

Aroma: light/ricey/orange-mikan

Body: Light and smooth

Taste: Even so dry, it does not shock the palate, probably due to the low acidity. Wecome tingle. Vanilla/mandarine/bitter chocolate
Gentle lingering

Overall: Distinguished. Ought to be drunk as an aperitif or on its own. Would go very well with greens.
As it is very easy to drink, I would probably even use it as a nightcap!
Definitely a great find. And so reasonably priced!
—————
Sayogoromo by Melinda Joe

melinda.jpg

My good (new) friend Melinda Joe has kindly agreed with the blind tasting of a bottle I sent her on February 19th. I obtained the bottle at Morimoto Brewery in Kikugawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture when I interviewed Mr. Hitoshi Morimoto (see February 17th post).
The only pointer I gave Melinda was that it had been brewed by Mr. Morimoto.
The sake was Nama junmai ginjo. One-year old. Yamada Nishiki Rice 50%, Kojima Rice 40%, Goyakumangoku Rice 10%. Koubo/Yeast N0 1401 from Kanazawa.
Name: Sayogoromo Nama Junmai Ginjo made by Hitoshi Morimoto of Morimoto Brewery/Kikugawa City in 2006. Bottle to be put on sale Spring 2007.

Here is Melinda’s tasting notes:

Color: Light amber tint
Clarity: Perfectly clear
Aroma: Bright, highly aromatic, green skinned fruit, yeast, nama!
Texture: Initially grainy then smooth
Body: Light to medium
Flavor: Green apple, pear, melon; slightly lactic, ricey notes in midpalate, but fruity overall; mild bitterness in the finish that hangs on the back of the throat
General impressions: soft and clean, elegant, sawayaka, hanayaka, nigiyaka, kirei, complex

These are the collective opinions of 3 tasters. This sake changed many times during the course of our evaluation, moving from rather sweet to generally dry and yielding a myriad of flavors. One of my friends had never had namazake before and was completely blown away by the vibrant nuances we discovered. An impressive, intriguing sake – my compliments to Morimoto-san!

Not much I can say about that, can I?
I’ve decided to let all tasting in their hands from now on!

Please visit Melinda’s blog for more excellent tasting tips!

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