Junmai Ginjo from Heavensake – drinks review

Heaven sake bottleJunmai Ginjo is just one of many styles of sake. The differences are derived from the type of rice used, the local water, the skill of the Master Brewer or Toji, the koji mould, yeast and, in some cases, added alcohol. But the main factor isn’t an ingredient at all but the degree to which the rice is polished.

Sake called Junmai Ginjo is produced from water, koji mould, yeast and rice having 40% of each grain milled away, leaving 60% of each grain behind to continue its way through the sake-making process. A Franco-Japanese partnership called Heavensake – an amusing play on words – produces just such a Junmai Ginjo sake.

It’s a collaboration between France’s Regis Camus, a wine maker, and the Japanese Urakasumi brewery headed by owner Mr. Koichi Saura (one can read my interview with this sake maker here). They have a 13-generation-long history of making prize-winning sake. Here they have turned their skills to present a sake which, in my opinion, is specifically designed for the young, predominantly European, market.

Hints of citrus on the palate

This is a fresh-tasting sake with a light nose having delicate white blossom notes. Hints of citrus on the palate and a medium finish make this a worthy introduction to sake for those unfamiliar with Japan’s national beverage. I would expect this to be appreciated more as a pre-dinner drink or served with delicately-flavoured foods.

Heavensake produce two styles of sake (the other being Junmai Daiginjo) but this Junmai Ginjo is perhaps the more accessible of the brace. It is an unchallenging sake which should be enjoyed chilled. It isn’t cheap, but sake never is. It’s a good ‘entry’ sake and could well encourage those sake virgins to become somewhat more adventurous. This is an elegant sake and presented in an equally engaging teardrop-shaped light blue bottle, both designed to appeal to a new non-Japanese audience.

£45 per single bottle (720ml)

Ingredients: rice, water, koji

ABV: 15%

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Product review by Chrissie Walker © 2018