Niigata's climate in the winter months can be a cold and snowy one. The prefecture is narrow and book-ended between the Sea of Japan and the Japanese Alps, and consequently bears the brunt of snow laden weather that travels across from Siberia. Some regions, closer to the mountains, receive huge amounts of snow - some with as much as 35 feet! This snow acts as a purifier, cleansing the air of pollutants and thus creating good brewing conditions. In addition, the snow melt is of great benefit to the high grade sake rice that the prefecutre cultivates, not to mention the pristine water itself is ustilized for brewing.
To celebrate this famous sake region, January's sake flight at ki is comprised of three sake from some of Niigata's top breweries. In addition, they highlight the Niigata sake style of 'Tanrei Karakuchi" (crisp, light and dry).
KIKUSUI "FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH" JUNMAI GINJO
From Kikusui Brewery, Niigata Prefecture
Kikusui, or Chrysanthemum water in Japanese (named after a mountain hermit who lived 700 years by drinking the water from this famous flower’s leaves), is a brewery well-known for its funaguchi cans and supplying the soldiers of the Japanese military with premium sake. This Junmai Ginjo, made with rice milled to 60% of its original size, has mild aromas of melon and banana and is very easy to drink!
YOSHI NO GAWA "GOKU JO" GINJO
From Yoshi no Gawa Brewery, Niigata Prefecture
Established in 1548, Yoshi no Gawa is the oldest brewery in Niigata. The brewery is synonymous with the region’s ‘tanrei karakuchi’ (light, crisp dry) style. This Ginjo is made with Gohyakumangoku and Koshi Tanrei rice (both local Niigata rice strains) milled to 58% of its original size and is the favourite sake of the late Kawakami-san, the brewery’s 19th generation President. On the palate, the Goku Jo is light and elegant with orange peel and fennel notes.
HAKKAISAN "EIGHT PEAKS" TOKUBETSU HONJOZO
From Hakkaisan Brewery, Niigata Prefecture
A pioneer in creating the ‘tanrei karakuchi’ style that has made Niigata sake famous, Hakkaisan has become one of Japan’s most well-known breweries. It is located near Japan’s northern Alps and benefits from massive amounts of annual snowfall (~35 feet annually!) which create pure brewing conditions and pristine rice and water for brewing with. This food friendly Honjozo is dry, easy to drink with subtle notes of anise and root beer