(By Peggy Lin)

If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, Asian Fusion recommends these sake brands for the holiday season. Surround yourself with friends and family with delicious food and drinks.

Ippongi Sake Brewery is located in Katsuyama City. Katsuyama City and neighboring Ono City make up the region called Oku-Echizen. The region is blessed with pure water and fertile soil, creating the perfect environment to grow large amounts of high quality sake rice. The taste Ippongi aims for is something pure with a beautifully articulated fragrance and flavor. To accomplish this, Ippongi turned to the Nanbu brewing method (developed among brew masters from southern Iwate prefecture, which was famous for producing sake with a clean, clear taste). The company began employing a toji (brew master) well-versed in the Nanbu methods, and since then Ippongi has consistently worked to produce a quality sake which embodies these ideals of purity in both taste and fragrance.

This sake features a calm fragrance and pure dry taste. When you sip this sake, scenes of a quiet, snow-covered sake factory might drift though your mind. This sake is brewed using ‘Yamadanishiki’ and “Gohyakumanngoku” rice. Denshin Yuki’s tranquil aroma and clear dry taste has garnered enthusiastic support not only from customers who enjoy dry sake, but also from chefs who seek an appropriate sake to accompany fine cuisine.
GINKOUBAI – To express the taste in one phrase, it is sweet and elegant. Unlike the average plum sake which often has a heavy taste, Ginkoubai offers a lighter harmony of flavor between sweet and sour. Plum sake is usually made by soaking plums and sugar into distilled alcohol, causing the taste to become thick like honey. However, the process used to make Ginkoubai differs from this completely. You first wait for the plum to reach full maturity, then to extract only the pure plum juice, the plums are slowly pressed by using SAKEFUNE, a gentle pressure machine used normally in the production of regular sake. Next, this pure plum juice is blended with sugar and Junmai sake, and it is through this that Ginkoubai is able to attain its lighter flavor and elegant sake undertones.

Choryo Shuzo is located at Koryo-cho town in the northwest part of Nara, which is said to be the birthplace of Sake. Koryo-cho is surrounded by many historic heritages: the shrine dedicated to the God of Sake “Omiwa Jinja” to the east, the holy site of Buddhism’s origin Asuka-ji to the south, and Horyu-ji temple, nominated as a World Heritage site to the north.

This Sake is brewed in the best traditional way by using only the famous Sake rice Omachi harvested in Okayama prefecture. This type of junmai-ginjo creates a very sharp and clear taste, well balanced flavors and a soft ginjo aroma.

A Beautiful amber-colored Sake made by aging Honjozo undiluted Sake brewed in 1992, at a low temperature for a long period of time. It has a unique, full-bodied, mild flavor and a rich aroma. This Sake is best enjoyed with a meal, dried figs, bitter chocolate or other desserts.

Tanzan Shuzo is located in eastern Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Kyoto is surrounded by the natural resources necessary for making premium quality Sake, thus renowned as one of the best Sake-brewing regions. Two young innovative Hasegawa sisters, who are themselves female Sake-masters, manage the century-old brewery. Female Sake-master (Toji) is still a rare phenomenon in the traditional trade of Sake-making, and the sisters received a lot of media attention several years ago. Being quite unique among other breweries, Tanzan is full of new ideas. It has earned its popularity among young Sake connoisseurs by introducing a line of trendy, lighter, and more fruity Sake products. After its recent success in Japan, Tanzan has set its eyes on an international market, including the United States, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

The Kamoshibito Kuheiji Brewery (Banjou Jouzou Co.) has continued it’s tradition of fine sake brewing for over 350 years. Kamoshibito Kuheiji is now one of the few Japanese breweries that still make sake by hand, staying true to traditional sake-making methods. Its Junmai Ginjo Sake is brewed from carefully grown and selected amadanishiki rice. Its characteristics are outstanding: a powerful, complex, exotic flavor of ripe fruits and pleasant acidity, an aroma of roses and anise, and a subtle and suave aftertaste.