Classic Niigata Dry Sake
Tanrei karakuchi, light and dry, is a synonym of Niigata sake. The breweries in Niigata started to make this type of sake in the 70s to meet consumers' transitioning demand and taste. It was also the fruit of the brewers' attitude to reflect the hard water of the region.
Kirinzan Brewery had been brewing dry sake long before the transition, according to Kichihei Saito, the brewery owner. He kept the policy even when sweet sake was desired in the market. These days, "dry sake doesn't sell" was the common understanding in the brewing industry.
The crisp and dry taste makes this brew easy to drink when chilled. Yet, it has a mellow body reminiscent of apricot and cream cheese, which has less fat and more acidity. Comfortable afternotes of apricot and melon with a little bit of bitterness, which doesn't linger much. Warming slightly (to around 35°C), the flavor expands! The milkiness and the sweet rice hints are pleasant.
This sake recalled my memories of the sake journey in this region. On the first sip, my soul transferred to the ramen shop in Niigata, feeling the aroma of shoyu in the vapor of the umami-rich soup, which enhances the ricey flavor of this brew. It finishes crisp with karami or sharp dryness with stimulations of alcohol, and so does the dish. It also pairs nicely with teriyaki-flavored foods and dim sum with fat.
Tasted in August 2021.
On the Label
Brewer: Kirinzan Brewery Co., Ltd. at Aga, Niigata
- Niigata Prefecture Sake Brewing Association Compiling Committee ed. 新潟淡麗の創造へ: 新潟県酒造組合小史: 1960-2003 [For the Creation of Niigata Tanrei Sake: A Brief History of the Niigata Prefecture Sake Brewing Association 1960-2003]. 2003. Niigata: Niigata Prefecture Sake Brewing Association.
- Saito, Kichihei. 2001. わが社のあゆみと経営戦略 [The Course of Our Company and Managing Way]. 日本醸造協会誌 [Journal of the Brewing Society of Japan] Volume 96 Issue 2 (2001). pp.80-85.