Written by Chris Hughes
SET 3 Event Report
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Asakusa Branch
Participants: 20 (8 foreigners,12 Japanese)
Duration: 4 hours
Theme: The difference between sweet & dry sake
Guest Speaker: Mr. Nakasuji of Miyoshikiku Brewery, Tokushima Prefecture
On 29th November, we held our second SAKE SET (Sake Exchange Tokyo) event and I think we actually achieved the impossible and topped the first! I would just like to thank all those who attended for making the event so successful and a joy to host.
This time we were very lucky to be joined by none other than Mr.Nakasuji of Miyoshikiku Brewery in Tokushima Prefecture, who very kindly brought with him not 1,not 2, but 3 amazing limited-edition sakes for us to taste. Two of these were served as aperitif and after-dinner drinks. The aperitif was a spicy dry cloudy sake, the after-dinner drink was a special high-quality type sake called Kijoshu. (see this article here for more info).
So without further ado, allow me to introduce the special guest star of the show, take it away Mr.Nakasuji!
Special Guest Brewer: Mr. Sosei Nakasuji
Brewery: Miyoshikiku Brewery
Sake type: Modern, Super fruity!
Q: Why can you speak such good English?
A: I went to US when I was 17 as a high school exchange student. I went on to college and graduated UNC-CH with bachelor of economics. I came back to Japan in 2009 and decided to join sake world, my natural love.
Q: How and when did you join this brewery?
A: I joined Miyoshikiku as a brewery crew/sales representative after having worked for five years in other sake breweries near Tokyo.
So there you have it! And we had no sooner toasted the start of the event than he was busy mingling with everyone and passing around his sake.
One of the biggest challenges facing newcomers to the beverage has got to be the sheer number of types and flavours on offer—a little overwhelming to say the least.
One way of navigating your way through this maze of choice is to narrow your preference down to something simple, like say for example, the sweetness or dryness of the sake. But sake bottles do not normally tell you whether they are sweet or dry; not like wine bottles do. So then, how on earth do you tell which one is dry and which one is sweet? Alas, that was the question we attempted to answer in our second SET.
Learn about sake in a casual and fun way while making new friends with people from all over the world. Each event comes with a guided tasting and the opportunity to taste from over 100 different types of sake, without time limits, all sourced from rare small breweries that don’t usually get a look in in the capital. Furthermore, some of the sakes can only be tasted at these events.
● Sake in a nutshell
● Cultural origins and history
● Modern developments
● Raw ingredients
● Production process: Focus Koji making
Participants were treated to some videos of koji making, taken during my training- note, not a great example considering how bad I was so they were shown a professional’s work as well.
● Where does sake get its sweetness from?
● Other factors that make sake dry / sweet.
● The key ingredient that makes sweet sake clean tasting
The guided tasting
A selection of 6 sakes, all with varying degrees of sweetness and dryness; some of them deceptively so: I purposefully picked sakes that did not taste how they were described to demonstrate the diversity of flavour on offer. Too many people confine themselves to the habit of ordering sweet or dry sake, professionals included. It is much better if you can give a more detailed explanation of what you are looking for. SET 2 provided participants with a new tasting vocabulary with which to explore, one that sails far away from the aforementioned constraints. When you are able to request a sake in this way, the sweetness and dryness levels of sake in effect become surplus to requirements.
The Blind Tasting
Participants were then free to taste as many sakes as they could muster and make friends in the process.
The sakes brought by Mr.Nakasuji complimented the lineup perfectly and were hands down the most popular sake of the event —true to the KURAND concept: sake tastes even more delicious when you drink knowing who made it and the passion that went into it. He is such a professional that even when his sakes had all been lapped up, before you can say the words: the show must go on! he was gliding from table to table serving other brewery’s sakes. What a gent!
I should mention at this point that all 3 of the sakes provided by Miyoshikiku Brewery are not available in the regular KURAND lineup. In other words, this a once and only chance to try them.
We hope to invite Miyoshikiku back for future events.
Once again, the element that made this event such a success is without a doubt the people. I think you can see from the pictures what a lovely bunch of people we were graced with. Every event just gets better and better for all involved. I can’t wait to see where this event is in the next couple of months time. I hope more of you will join us on this crusade to create one of the biggest, most spectacular, memorable meetups in history.
If this event report has tickled your taste buds, there is another SET just around the corner.
SAKE SET VOL 3 13th December noon-4pm
It is all in the label!
We will examine the beautiful artwork of the sake label and determine whether it really is wise to choose sake based on its bottle’s aesthetics.
I look forward to seeing you all !!