Japan Eats

World Cup Sake, Match 1

Hasegawa, purveyors of fine sake and savvy marketers of products such as the Tokyo Swallows baseball beer, have outdone themselves for the 2010 World Cup.

Rather than produce new libations, Hasegawa has repackaged some popular sake, shochu, and umeshu in fancy 2010 World Cup South Africa-themed bottles. While there were 13 different sake, two shochu, an umeshu, and a lemon liqueur thus bottled, we here were able to get our hands on six nice sake selections.

In the spirit of the competition, I’m going to review them in a little playoff, giving a bye to two chosen almost randomly.

In the first of two quarterfinal matchups:

Nanbu Bijin vs. Toyo Bijin

The Battle Of the Beauties

Nanbu Bijin, of Iwate, (Junmai, SMV +4, polished 60%)is a favorite around the Japan Eats table – it’s pretty widely available and is good value for money. It’s well-balanced, starting with a rather ricey fragrance, a smooth impact that spreads mostly over the center of the tongue, with a dry, but full flavor. It has a good measure of koku (earthiness, some would say) and has just hints of fruity notes.

Toyo Bijin, of Yamaguchi, (Junmai, SMV 0, polished 55%), was new to your reviewers, and took us by surprise, sadly, not in a good way.

It’s a very clear sake with a sweet, almost bubble gum, fragrance that starts with a very mild, subtle impact and a very light presence – because of its low acidity (1.5), you almost don’t know its there until the end, when it tails off quickly with a bit of saccharine aftertaste, and that’s the problem. Although it’s a dry sake, the bubble gum smell tuns out to signify a bubble gum flavor, which is, I’m sorry to say, zatsumi (an out of place, undesirable flavor).

Nanbu Bijin progresses easily, doing what Germany does to opponents on the soccer field, but largely through Toyo Bijin’s own goal.

Nanbu Bijin will face Tengumai, which got a bye. Match 2 will feature Zaku and Bijofu, the winner of which will face Hakurakusei.

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Da mihi sis crustum Etruscum cum omnibus in eo.

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