Sake Sparkles at the Eat-Japan Sake Experience at HYPER JAPAN


Sake may be on the menu at more festival parties than usual this winter after nearly 700 tipplers sampled over 20 different sake at Sake Experience, a tasting event held from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 November as part of HYPER JAPAN Christmas 2012. Tasting ticket holders were given an unrivalled opportunity to sample sake and umeshu from 10 different breweries, in different styles: warm, on the rocks, at room temperature and chilled.

Although sake is increasingly found on restaurant menus in the UK, and particularly in London, there are few opportunities to sample many sake in a single sitting. At the Sake Experience, however, tasters could enjoy everything from super simple junmai to full-bodied premium daiginjo sake, along with aged, unpasteurized and even sparkling varieties.

The Sake Experience follows on from the success of the inaugural Sake Awards, held at HYPER JAPAN in spring 2012, where seven breweries went head-to-head in seven voting categories. There was voting this time, too, with tasters asked to choose their overall favourite, the perfect sake for a gift, and the best match with British food. Winning the ‘People’s Favourite’ accolade was Dassai 23, a junmai daiginjo with a delicate nose of luscious fruit and florals and a long finish. Dassai 23 is quickly establishing itself as a firm favourite among UK drinkers, having already swept the board at the 2012 Sake Awards in February.

Golden Amber, an oak barrel-aged koshu, or aged sake, with a distinct warm colour and sweet yet spicy aroma was chosen as the perfect sake to give as a gift - and considering how many bottles of sake were snapped up on the day, it’s likely that quite a few are destined for under the tree. Proving that sake doesn’t always have to mean sushi was Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai, which has candy and banana on the nose and a deliciously smooth sweetness, making it an ideal pairing for many British dishes.

“British drinkers seem keen to learn more, and they already have a rich vocabulary for describing taste and texture”, said Rieko Hayashi, of sake-as-gift award winners Hayashi Honten. “I was really impressed. I suspect the influence of wine culture”. Tasters seemed to enjoy communicating with the brewery representatives and learning more about the back story to each sake. Mini-seminars by sake sommelier Natsuki Kikuya on how to enjoy sake, such as how to drink warmed sake (known as atsukan) at home, were also popular with the mostly British crowd.



Cross Media Ltd