The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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february 2014 / the tasting panel / 75 J unmai—pure saké with no added alcohol—was Japan's irst modern saké. The style emerged during a period in the mid-19th century known as the Meiji Restoration, which was the heyday of saké production. Government rules were relaxed and anyone with know-how and the means could operate a saké brewery. That's when brewer Unosuke Yomo began producing saké in Fushimi, Kyoto in 1842 and where the Takara Shuzo brewery was established in 1925. When Takara was ready to expand in the West, Berkeley, California was the chosen location and the U.S. brewery opened there in 1982. Takara didn't leave tradition behind; the brewery houses a rare museum where the history, meth- ods and tools of artisanal saké production are on display. In viewing well-worn handmade tools that have been carved from wood reclaimed from large saké fermentation vats, the provenance and craftsmanship of saké production starts to come into focus. Domestic Saké Shines In 2013, Sho Chiku Bai Rei, a junmai ginjo nama (draft) saké brewed at Takara Sake USA, achieved an important milestone for the brewery and for the domestic saké industry. From a ield of 64 sakés entered in the junmai ginjo category at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, Takara's Sho Chiku Bai Rei was the only domestically-brewed saké to be awarded a Gold Medal. "For an affordable, domestically-brewed draft saké to beat out our own artisanal junmai ginjo and dozens of other jun- mais, many of which have been brewed in Japan for centu- ries is very unusual," said Izumi Motai, Marketing Manager/ Senior Tasting Room Manager at Takara Sake USA's spacious tasting room. "In the world of saké, two events—the Gold Medal awarded to Sho Chiku Bai Rei, and the earlier 2011 Gold Medal awarded to Sho Chiku Bai Junmai Classic in the junmai category at the U.S. National Appraisal—are akin LIKE AMERICAN WINES AT THE INFAMOUS JUDGEMENT OF PARIS, AN AFFORDABLE, DOMESTICALLY-BREWED JUNMAI AND JUNMAI GINJO DRAFT SAKÉ BESTS ITS PEDIGREED JAPANESE COUNTERPARTS TO ACHIEVE A MILESTONE Sho Chiku Bai Rei saké, brewed at Takara Sake USA, has set milestones for the brewery and for the domestic saké industry.

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