Shizuoka SakeTasting 10/1~8: Takashima Brewery/Hakuin Masamune

Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune, Shoukumi Mizu Junmashyu Season III

Takashima Brewery in Hamamatsu has been receiving a lot of attention in Japan these last two years after being given the accolade by DANCYU magazine last year. Its brews are avidly searched through the nation. Although they are readuly available in Shizuoka, they are still a rarity elsewhere, except maybe in Tokyo.

Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune, Shoukumi Mizu Junmashyu Season III

This is a sake out of the ordinary as only 100% (1 to 1) ratio of water has been used in brewing the sake, whereas modern method makes use of 130~140% of water (rice being the basic 100% ratio base).
Furthermore it had been made in the old fashion when sake traders added water to sake bought in kegs to make it milder to the taste.
The alcohol was also lower than in present days.
Accordingly, takashima Brewery kept the alcohol level of this particular brew lower than usual as an experiment

Rice: Homarefuji and Aichi no Kaori (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Rice milled down to 60% (Homarefuji) and 65% (Aichi no Kaori)
Alcohol: under 15 degrees
Contents: 1.8l
Bottled in March 2010

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Golden hue

Aroma: Complex, flowery and fruity: pineapple, almonds.

Body: fluid

Taste: Soft and dry attack backed by junmai petilllant tingle.
Linger for a short while with a sweetish flowery note.
Complex, dry and fruity. Pienapple, almonds, brown sugar and apricots.
Very soft and pleasant on the palate.
Holds its own well with food with welcome acid note.

Overall: A sake for all seasons.
To be enjoyed chilled, at room temperature or “nurukan” (45 degrees).
Typical of Takashima Brewery.
Should please both ladies and gentlemen on its own or with any kind of meal.
An extremely underrated beauty!
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Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune Junmai (no alcohol added), Nama (unpasteurized) Genshu (unaltered)

hakuin-suntoh

Kazutaka Takashima is a maverick masterbrewer and owner in a maverick sake-brewering Prefecture. Aged only 31, he took over his father’s brewery 3 years ago, hired a new brewmaster from Iwate Prefecture (Nanbu School) and finally started brewing his own sake this year. Built like a barrel (he holds a fifth dan in judo!), he is nevertheless a very affable if passionate brewer.
When I interviewed him last year, he confided me he was planning to create sake exclusively from Shizuoka Prefecture ingredients. The fact that his brewery stands at the foot of Mount Fuji in Numazu City within convenient distance of Suntoh Gun will explain why he held his promise as you will discover in the following posting.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce my new tasting friend, Jen from Boston, to the “World Sake Blogging Club” represented by Melinda, Etsuko and Tim!

Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune Junmai (no alcohol added), Nama (unpasteurized) Genshu (unaltered)

Rice: Shizuoka Yamada Nishidi strain grown in Suntoh Gun
Rice milled down to 65%
Yeast: Shizuoka Yeast NEW-5
Water: from own well dug at the foot of Mount Fuji
Alcohol: 16~17 degrees
Dryness: +5
Acidity: 1.7

Clarity: Very clear.
Colour: Light golden tinge.
Aroma: Pleasing and very fruity: bananas, vanilla.
Body: Velvety
Taste: Strong alcohol attack backed up by junmai tingle.
Shortish tail. Warms up back of the palate and throat.
Complex and fruity: bananas, vanilla, almonds. Coffee beans appearing with second sip.
Turns dry with food with bitter chocolate and almonds coming out.
Makes a somewhat sweet exit.

Overall: A surprisingly elegant for such a strong sake.
Sublime with food.
Always entices for another cup.
Another discovery!
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Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune Yamahai junmai Hiyaoroshi 2008

I had been impatiently waiting for a “hiyaoroshi” (sake pasteurized only once) from my my very special favorite Brewery, Takashima Brewery in Numazu City. Well, I had even greater luck this time as this also a “Yamahai”!

Takashima Brewery: Hakuin Masamune Yamahai junmai Hiyaoroshi 2008

Rice: Yamada Nishiki
Rice milled down to 65%
Yeast: Shizuoka NEW-5
Alcohol: 17~18 degrees (genshu type)
Dryness: +1 (very low)
Acidity: 1.7
Bottled in September 2008

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Transparent
Aroma: Fruity: dry cherries, almonds, coffee beans, banana
Body: Velvety
Taste: Shortish tail. Welcome alcohol (high as this is a genshu/unaltered sake).
Dry cherries, coffee beans. Complex. Very soft and pleasant in spite of high alcohol. Plays hide and seek with taste buds.
Dry almonds appearing with food.
Turns drier with food.

Overall: A beauty!
Could be drunk at any time of a meal. Could definitely be drunk in place of a fine Port wine!
Definitely a session sake in spite of very low millage for Shizuoka (65%. Usually 60%)!
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Takashima Brewery/Hakuin Masamune-Junmai Dai Ginjo

kampyo-2008-1.jpg

As I said in my previous article, I just had the time to taste the 2008 edition of the Junmai Daiginjo concocted by that favourite Brewery of mine, namely Takashima Brewery in Numazu City, at the 2008 Shizuoka Ken Toji Kikizake Kenkyuukai. I chose well!

Takashima Brewery/Hakuin Masamune-Junmai Dai Ginjo
Rice: Komachi
Yeast: Shizuoka NEW-5
Dryness: +3

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Fruity-Pineapple. Pleasant and discreet

Body: velvety

Taste: Fruity and solid. Bananas, pineapple. Junmai tingle. Easy to drink.

Overall: I’m looking forward to drink with food. A rare case of a junmai dai Ginjo which can be eserved slightly warmed. Lots of strength and personality.
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Hakuin Masamune Dai Ginjo

hakuin-daigin.jpg

I must confess I have not been able to survey Takashima Brewery’s sake as much as other breweries as it is located far in the east in Numazu City, but it never fails to surprise me. Every year seems to witness further progress in qulaity and originality!

The latest is quite a nectar:
Hakuin Masamune Dai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo Prefecture
Rice milled down to 40%
Yeast: Shizuoka NEW-5
Alcohol: 16~17 degrees (pretty high)
Bottled in September 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: light golden tinge

Aroma: Elegant. Fruity/Flowers: bananas, vanilla, pineapple, gardenias

Body: velvety

Taste: Elegant, refined. Fruity: vanilla, bananas, pineapple. Nice alcohol tingle revealed from second sip. Bananas lingering on palate.
Bitter chocolate and almonds appearing with food.

Overall: Eminently drinkable with food. Elegant, feminine. Calling for another sip. Almost tastes like a liqueur. A memorable discovery!

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Hakuin Masamune Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu

hakuin-tokujungen.jpg

Takashima Brewery in Numazu City has decidedly become one of my favourites as it never ceases to surprise me with its marked individuality and intricacy.
This brew is no exception.

Takashima-Hakuin Masamune Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu

Rice: Gohyakumangoku
Rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: +1
Acidity: 1.7
Alcohol: 17~18%
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Fruity, pleasant, melon, oranges.

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex. Fruity: citrus/melon. Backed later with oranges and a little bitter chocolate and dry cherries.
Dryness lingering in mouth. Takes a back seat with food and actually encourages it. Turns slightly sweet.

Overall: Complex, intriguing, classy.
Solid but gentle taste. Develops into oranges, lemons and citruses inside mouth.
A sake which shouild be drunk for itr sole enjoyment. Calls for another sip. Great with food.
Would compete with any wine!
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Hakuin Masamune Homare Fuji Junmai Shu

hakuin-yamahai.jpg

When you look at Takashima Brewery’s labels, you will have to make a point at looking carefully at the “band” over the main label, as this is the only information you will get (and make sure it goes into your scrap book as well!)

Although, their brews are few, they are definitely out of the oridinary. A favourite? Definitel!

Hakuin Masamune Homare Fuji Junmai Shu

Rice: Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to 60%
Alcohol: 15=16 degrees
Bottled in October 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light, ricey

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex, but takes time to develop.
Fruits: dark cherries. Junmai tingle. Unexpected and welcome acidity appears with food.
Develops and lingers on the palate after second sip

Overall: Complex, elegant, refined.
A sake you discover as you taste it.
Session sake
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Hakuin Masamune, Junmai Ginjo

hakuin.jpg

Last night I think I found a sake from which I will really find it difficult to keep my hands off!
Numazu City is scelebrated for its fish all over Japan, and recently for its beer thanks to Bryan Baird, but it has always been a place where great sake was brewed.
Takashima Brewery, or Hakuin Masamune as it is usually known, has a long history of coming up with some very original ideas (try their shochu “En”. You will be really surprised!).
I fianlly got around buying the first of their bottles (they do have quite a few), and honestly speaking, the reason why I chose this particular one among the half dozen available at Nagashim Saketen was its label!
For once the contents deserved their label!
This sake is ismply called Junmai Ginjo, Hakuin masamune”. It was brewed in February 2007. Rice milled down to 50%, alcohol content 16.5 degrees. That’s all…

Color: very light amber

Clarity: perfectly clear

Body: solid

Aroma: light/cherries

Taste: the cherries (black/dry) guessed in the discreet aroma came up powerfully in the mouth to linger a long time like a balm on the palate with the typical junmai petillant.

I immediately “fell in love” with the nectar. I will have to send it to Tokyo, as it deserves better coverage!
Now, I will have to check that brewery thoroughly!

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