Episode 39 Show Notes

Season 1. Episode 39. New Year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, but we here on the podcast are looking at our Revolution Resolutions – namely, our sake goals for 2021! The New year is one of the most important holidays in Japan. The Japanese flock to their local shinto shrine to pray for a healthy and auspicious new year. One tradition that is a bit less common is the drinking of Otoso sake. This is a medicinal sake infused with herbs and spices (cinnamon, ginger, pepper etc). Tim and John step into the new year with some new sake goals for the new year. For Tim, it is to drink outside his comfort zone, and as a good first step, he brings in a sweet Junmai Nigori. John wants to buy more sake locally and hits the japckpot when he finds some wonderful premium sake at his local liquor store. Here is a toast to 2021, hoping it brings us all more of the sake we love.

Skip to: 00:19 Hosts Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 01:21 New Years Sake Resolutions

Skip to: 03:29 New Years in Japan

Skip to: 12:03 Sake Tasting Introductions

Skip to: 16:30 Yaemon Tsuki-Akari Nigori Junmai

Yaemon Tsuki-Akari Nigori Junmai

Alcohol: 16.5%
Classification: Junmai Nigori
Prefecture: Fukushima
Rice Type: Gohyakumangoku
Seimaibuai: 65%
SMV: -15
Acidity: 1.8
Brewery: Yamatogawa Shuzoten
Brand: Yaemon
Importer: Mutual Trading
Sake Name English: Pale Moonlight

Skip to: 19:31 Senkin “Immortal Wing” Classic Muku Junmai Daiginjo

Senkin “Immortal Wing” Classic Muku Junmai Daiginjo

Alcohol: 15.0%
Classification: Junmai Daiginjo
Prefecture: Tochigi
Rice Type: Yamada Nishiki
Seimaibuai: 40%/50%
SMV: -2
Acidity: 202
Brewery: Senkin
Brand: Yaemon
Importer: Mutual Trading
Sake Name English: Immortal Wing

Skip to: 25:05 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

Episode 39 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello everybody. And welcome to the first. Episode of 2021 for sake revolution. This is America’s first sake podcast. I’m your host, John Puma from the sake notes. Also the administrator over at the internet, sake discord. The guy on the show who was notably, not a sake samurai and just an old fashioned sake otaku. Like you guys.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:45
And I am your host, Timothy Sullivan, happy new year. I am the sake samurai. I am a sake educator as well as the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week John and I will be tasting and chatting about all things, sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand. So John happy new year here we are.

John Puma: 1:07
new year, Tim. I hope you had a relaxing week off from the show.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:12
I did very relaxing. I’m all recharged and ready to go.

John Puma: 1:18
fan tastic. That’s what we like to hear.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:21
Now, you know what? We usually ask each other this time of year, what are your new year’s resolutions? But you know, I’m going to put a little twist on it. I’m going to ask you what your sake resolutions are for 2021.

John Puma: 1:36
Ooh. Okay. All right. All right. well my sake new year’s resolution kind of ties into what I’m going to be drinking a little later on, but, one thing that we’ve found over the past year is that we really need to support our local places. Cause with the pandemic and a lot of the quarantines, a lot of local places were, were suffering so, what I’m going to be hoping to do is, buying more locally from around me and specifically, I mean, sake, I happened to be lucky enough to have a place nearby. That’s been dipping their toe into expanding their sake selection, and I’m doing everything I can to encourage that and kind of spread the word and get things out there about sake. And that’s strictly speaking of my sake new year’s resolution.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:24
I think that’s great. And as you said, you know, during this, this pandemic crap, it’s really important to. Support our local businesses. So Bravo, Bravo. That’s a great resolution.

John Puma: 2:34
Oh, thank you so much, Tim. And, uh, what about you? What are you, what do you have, uh, up your sleeve?

Timothy Sullivan: 2:39
Well, my sake revolution, I no my sake resolution is to. Drink outside my comfort zone. Now I’ve been drinking sake a long time and we settle in our grooves

John Puma: 2:56
We do.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:57
I tend to gravitate towards the styles that I like and getting a little bit too comfortable. So I brought a sake today. That is something I would normally not grab off the shelf. I’m going to shake things up and I’m going to try to drink styles that are usually not. My favorite, but they may very well become my favorite. So we’re going to expand our palate.

John Puma: 3:22
Yeah, you’re expanding your horizons. This is very interesting too.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:26
I’m going to color outside the lines this year.

John Puma: 3:29
I know. Very nice. So, yeah, we mentioned at the top of this, this is our first episode of the year, and these are our sake resolutions. so you’ve actually experienced new years. In Japan, right? Like was you spent a year there and I imagine you didn’t like leave on December 31st and miss it.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:51
Yeah, I experienced one, new years in Japan. So I got to go through that and experience some of the cultural activities that everybody does in new year’s and it it’s really fun and there’s a lot of traditions that are very fixed, like in the U S. On Thanksgiving, you have a Turkey, like that’s what everybody does. And there’s some things like that in Japan for new years too. And I have to say new year’s is a huge, huge holiday in Japan.

John Puma: 4:20
huge. Like they like go to, they go outside and drink and have a countdown or something, or

Timothy Sullivan: 4:25

John Puma: 4:26
we do that.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:27
they go back to their families and they take several days off. And, uh, it’s, it’s a time to be with family and recharge and they say, I’ve heard that they say what you do on new year’s is indicative of how you’ll spend the year. So one thing that many, many Japanese people do on new year’s is they go to shinto shrine. And they do an offering to the Shinto gods and they pray for good health and their family’s health and good things for the year. And that is something that I did on new year’s day when I lived in Japan too. And it was so crowded, like everybody was there. And when it comes to sake, there’s actually a sake tradition as

John Puma: 5:11
No ha I was hoping we can tie this into the, into the name of our show.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:17
There’s a type of sake called otoso

John Puma: 5:21
O-toso O-toso

Timothy Sullivan: 5:22
Otoso and it is an. Herbed medicinal sake that is consumed traditionally. Uh, it was believed to be healthy and. Give you longevity and long life. So there’s a ceremonial drinking of this old otoso style sake and it is a kind of an old fashioned tradition. It’s not something you’re going to see in every household. But it is a sake tradition. That’s tied exclusively to new year’s day. So I think that’s really fun to just recognize. And if you ever have a chance in Japan on new year’s day to drink a otoso you have to do it.

John Puma: 6:00
So we, we didn’t bring any on otoso today.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:02
No, I don’t have

John Puma: 6:03
Ah, so what is it? Is it like, like Amazon or,

Timothy Sullivan: 6:08

John Puma: 6:08
um, is it like, what, what is, what is otoso

Timothy Sullivan: 6:11
I’ve never actually had it myself,

John Puma: 6:13
Ah, this is a mission now we’ve got to find some.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:16
I think it’s something that people make their own concoction and it’s a herbs sake that is supposed to be. Fortifying for your health and bring you longevity.

John Puma: 6:31
Maybe we don’t need to do that though.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:33
I’m not sure it tastes amazing. People also drink sake on new year’s day as a very celebratory thing as well. So, uh, there’s, there’s plenty of sake flowing on new year’s.

John Puma: 6:45
So Tim, outside of your sake new year’s resolution, which is very admirable, I really liked the idea of trying to go outside your comfort zone and have some funky stuff. I think Myshell has something for you that you might wanna try,

Timothy Sullivan: 6:57
Oh, no crazy sake.

John Puma: 6:58
Exactly. Um, what about, uh, what about your day to day? What’s your, what’s your regular new year’s resolution? And does it tie somehow to sake?

Timothy Sullivan: 7:10
I always have the standard list of new year’s resolutions, but I’m going to be moving this year. So, um, my lease is up and I’m definitely getting a new apartment in the late winter, early spring sometime. And I am having minimalist vibes like Marie Kondo vibes right now. Like I’m looking at everything in my apartment. Like you don’t spark joy, you don’t spark joy. Of course this does not apply to my sake collection, but everything

John Puma: 7:39
All of that. All of that sparks joy.

Timothy Sullivan: 7:41
All of that sparks a lot of joy, but looking around my apartment, I’m like, Oh, why do I have that? So this idea of moving this year has really gotten me, especially with new year’s happening to have like, a Marie Kondo moment. So that’s really what I’m focused on right now. How about you, John?

John Puma: 7:59
Well, I have been inspired by our good friend sakeman. go back and check the show notes, you’ll see that we had sakeman red on a few episodes back and he talks about the sake man, creed, their motto. and so I I’m inspired by that. And I’m going to try to, be a little bit more like sakeman. Now that does not mean that my plan is to put on a Luchador mask and start pouring sake for people. at least not until the pandemic is over, but, one of their major things was the work hard. Play hard, drink hard. And I play hard, traditionally and I drink hard, on occasion. But, I think that, especially in the past year with, uh, with the pandemic, I have not been, taking care of my body in there in the right way. I haven’t been working out enough, which, I believe that, uh, sakemen, are all a judo practitioners, obviously that is not. Going to be my route, especially in the current environment. So, my wife and I got, a very nice exercise, bike, Peloton, and I’m trying to do at least 30 minutes of, of spin class every single day.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:11
wow. That’s amazing that’s a cool exercise bike, and it’s very, uh, pandemic chic. I have to say like that is the, that is the exercise device to have for the pandemic and, everybody in the whole world’s been kind of trapped indoors. And it takes an extra effort to maintain your. Physical self during these really challenging times. Not only is it hard to get out and exercise, but it’s also super stressful

John Puma: 9:40
Being outside is difficult. It’s not easy. It’s uh, going to, going to a store to get groceries is a stressful endeavor. Sometimes it’s not, so I was happy, go lucky as it once was. Um, but over the, over the summer, we, we did purchase bikes so that we could get. Further. And I think we might have talked about that on the show in the past that my wife and I would get, we had our bikes and like ride to Manhattan and go to decibel and stuff like that. And it was like, wow, we can actually go places, but now it’s entirely too cold for that. Um, and then also like in rains and stuff like that. And so how do we, how do we keep active when we can’t go outside? and so that was the answer was that we would get this and it’s been it’s I’ve. Tim. I was kind of a hater of this kind of thing going in, but I, I am, very much a convert now and I think it’s a good move and it helps me justify all the sake that I do

Timothy Sullivan: 10:30
Yes. Well, those, those sake calories can be sneaky. They do sneak up on you

John Puma: 10:37
So a while delicious, uh, and a very high in calories, somehow, not filling. Um, so you still need to eat,

Timothy Sullivan: 10:47
Especially that magic water that does not fill you up,

John Puma: 10:52
no. No, it

Timothy Sullivan: 10:54
but it tastes good.

John Puma: 10:55
All right, Tim, I think it is time for us to, well, let’s put your, a new year’s. Resolution almost said revolution again. Uh, put your, a sake new year’s resolution to the test. And what have you got with you today?

Timothy Sullivan: 11:13
Well, I’m going to put my sake revolution resolution to the test. How about that?

John Puma: 11:20
like it.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:22
Okay. So again, my resolution was to drink outside my comfort zone. And for those of you who may be listening for the first time, my favorite styles of sake are kind of lighter. Cleaner, super crisp sometimes, very gently fruity, but definitely on the lighter end of the spectrum, when it comes to sake, that’s generally what I tend to go for and to get out of that rut and to shake things up, I’ve gone for something on the other end of the spectrum. So I actually brought a Junmai Nigori with me today.

John Puma: 11:58
Junmai Nigori, Tim, this isn’t even from Yamagata.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:03
This is, uh, cloudy style sake. So again, nigoris are cloudy style sake and Junmai is our entry-level pure rice style. The brand name is Yaemon and this is their tsuki-akari, which means moonlights or pale Moonlight. And that. Reflects the kind of whitish color of the sake kind of pale Moonlight. Uh, this is a Junmai Sake as I mentioned, the rice is gohyakumangoku, uh, and uh, our milling rate here is 65% remaining. and our SMV that measurement of sweetness or dryness. This is a minus 15. This is much sweeter than I would usually go.

John Puma: 12:50
He, yeah, this is, uh, sounds a little bit more like something that Scott would enjoy.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:56
Well, we’re going to give it a taste and, see how that goes. Uh, John, do you want to introduce your revolution resolution?

John Puma: 13:05
sure. Um, so I have a bottle of, senkin immortal wing classic. muku Junmai Daiginjo, and that’s a

Timothy Sullivan: 13:14
Wow. That’s a mouthful.

John Puma: 13:16
Yeah. So Senkin is the name of the brand. and also the brewery, immortal wing, I believe is just the English translation of that. Muku is the name they’re giving to their Yamada Nishiki based sake. And it’s, junmai daiginjo, cause this is milled to 50% now. It’s actually interesting. The Koji. Rice is milled to 40%. The kakemai is milled to 50, which right. Really interesting there. and I think I had mentioned that this is their classic now most of the sake that they sell comes in two varieties, classic and modern and all the stats and the rices and the yeast are the same, but the brewing style is different. I think it’s a very. Interesting concept. I think maybe we can go into more depth in a later episode, but, this is something that, that a local place literally around the corner from my apartment had. and they had, like, they had dipped their toe a little bit in the sake in the past. And I was there one day and saw a couple of cases and recognized the logo. And I was like, excuse me. When are these going on the shelf? And the guy was like, well, we’re not so sure. We, we, you know, we w we, we might’ve purchased them by accident. Well, what I was like, please look, but I will buy these. Please sell this. I will buy it. And I will, I will tell other people, um, and that, that apparently is how you can get local places to sell sake. If they already accidentally purchased it.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:48
So you walked in and the cases were just sitting there

John Puma: 14:50
The cases were like, uh, near the back, like near the near, like the storeroom, like just stacked up. And I was like, wait a minute. they don’t sell Senkin here. Wait a minute. Do they still senkin here? and that was soon and I hope I got into their ear cause. we, we shop at this place occasionally and we’d come back in and be like, Hey, what about that sake? Okay. Cause we’re, we’re ready. We’ll buy it. Right. and they finally put it on the shelf and I I’m making good. And I’m picking up my end of the bargain and I, I bought a bottle,

Timothy Sullivan: 15:19
Awesome. Well, that’s great. You know, you, you put your money where your mouth was and you, you know, you encourage them instead of just sending it back because it was a mistake order. They put it on the shelf. They’re going to see, well, let’s see what happens and there you are

John Puma: 15:33
There I am.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:35
So you are walking the walk.

John Puma: 15:37
I am walking the walk. So Tim, why don’t we get you out of your comfort zone

Timothy Sullivan: 15:43
Okay. I’m ready doing my stretches right now. Okay. Yes.

John Puma: 15:49
No, that that’s a nigori, Tim, so make sure you… sure you uh, you do. Start a stir up a little bit. What do you call that when you rotate the bottle to make sure that the Ori gets

Timothy Sullivan: 15:58
I say invert the bottle. Yes. You want to turn it upside down a few times and you can. Give it a little shake. The one exception to that of course is our sparkling nigoris. We don’t want to shake those. So I’m going to go ahead and open this up and give it a pour

John Puma: 16:14
Guys, it’s a pretty good idea too, just in case it sparkly, never shake the nigori just gently turn it.

Timothy Sullivan: 16:30
All right, well, pouring it into the glass. I see the pale moon. Well, it’s our classic, slightly off white nigori color. And when I swirl it in the glass, there’s very little particulate sticking to the glass. So this is what I would say, a very find particulate, nigori. Uh, you don’t get big chunks sticking to the side of the glass here. Let’s give it a smell. Oh, wow. So it smells very ricey right off the nose. So it’s a junmai style. That means no added alcohol, just pure rice. And you get a full nose of steamed rice, almost rice pudding kind of smell.

John Puma: 17:13
Ooh, kinda like rice pudding. That’s nice.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:16
And there’s a little bit of that lactic character. You get a little bit of creaminess. So I think rice pudding is really a good way to describe this aroma. Okay. So I’m still pushing my boundaries here. All right. So let’s go ahead and give it, give it a taste. Hm. Okay. It is sweet. It tastes like rice pudding.

John Puma: 17:36
No, I, I might get something out of your new year’s resolution because I really like rice pudding.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:42
Oh my gosh. If you like rice pudding, this is the sake for you. It’s sweet. It’s creamy. Uh, there’s a little bit of like soft cream flavor and rice flavor and it is noticeably sweet. But the one thing I’m picking up on that you don’t get in rice pudding itself is there’s, there’s a bit of acidity at the finish that kind of balances out that sweetness. And the alcohol is very well integrated. So you don’t get any boozy notes or any heat or anything like that. But the finish has a little brightness and a little acidity that doesn’t leave the sweetness sticking to your, to your tongue and sticking to your palate. So it’s not unpleasantly, uh, cloyingly sweet, uh, really. Great. We talked when we had the nigori with Scott, a few episodes back, we talked about pairing it with chocolate chip cookies and how it would go with dessert. And if you can imagine taking a double chocolate chip cookie and dipping it in rice pudding and eating that yum, like that is what you’re dealing with here. It’s got the texture and the sweetness of, of a desserty thing.

John Puma: 18:52
Hmm, that’s going to lead to an extra hour on the bike. Thanks Tim.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:59
All right. Well, that is my first resolution done for the new year. I feel accomplished. I

John Puma: 19:06
I, you look, you’re smiling. You look accomplished.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:09
yes. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and, I feel pretty proud of myself.

John Puma: 19:14
He did. And it was, it, it wasn’t scary at all.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:16
no, no, no, it was, I’m glad you were here to help me along. But, uh, we, we did great and I have a new sake flavor under my belt, and we’re going to bounce it over to you, John. And I want to learn about this sake you bought locally,

John Puma: 19:31
Sure. I feel like I’m cheating a little bit by having this, like Junmai Daiginjo is something I bought locally, but I did buy it.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:41
right around the corner from your house. That’s fantastic.

John Puma: 19:47
I believe they do their maturation in bottle, so that’s probably why I got that little. Ooh. This is a, this a Roma is, is very nice. It’s um, uh, Tim I’m like, yo, this is very much in my comfort zone. Um, very fruity, a little, uh, like a Berry, like a lychee or, or like, and like a little hint of like a, something sweeter, like a. Almost like a marshmallow or bubble gum or something like that. Hmm. And then the taste is, um, well, the first thing I noticed is the mouthfeel. It does have a little bit of, uh, dance on the tongue, a little bit of like a fuzziness to it because I, I imagine. Probably from that metrition and bottle. Um, and it is making good on that promise that the aroma is giving you a little bit of a pineapple. So some tropical fruits on there, a little bit of acidity in the middle. and you know, like a subtle amount of, umami on the finish. So I think that despite being kind of fruity and a little bit, sweet, I’ll go over by the stats a little bit more in a moment Despite being a little bit fruity on the front, it’s got a richness to it that really will make it a more food friendly than I think a lot of sakes are present this way upfront are going to are going to do. sake meter value is minus two. So it’s a little bit on the sweeter end of the spectrum. Acidity is 2.2, which probably balances out that sweetness very nicely and it’s only 15% alcohol. So your nigori it’s a little bit boozier than my Junmai Daiginjo, Tim.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:45
Yeah. And, you know, acidity 2.2 is quite high

John Puma: 21:49
Yeah, it is.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:51
So I wouldn’t be surprised if you pick up on some of that bright acidity on your sake as well.

John Puma: 21:58
And I do think it balances out the sweetness and brings it. Um, it doesn’t neutralize the sweetness, but it balances it out and it makes it a very pleasant tasting experience. This is some really nice stuff. Uh, and again, not too far out of my comfort zone, but that was your resolution.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:18
The texture of that sake, I imagine that these really low luxurious milling rates, 40% and 50% are probably giving you some pretty smooth texture there.

John Puma: 22:28
A bit, but there is a lot of, uh, as I had mentioned, a lot of, fizziness on the tongue. So that dominates the texture conversation a little bit. Uh, if you let it, if you let it linger in your mouth a little bit, that subsides and it does become a little bit velvety.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:47
yeah. What’s unique about the situation right now is you just open that bottle 10 seconds ago. So, once that’s bottle has been open for an hour or two, some of that gas is going to escape and you’re going to get more the true texture of that sake. I think when you, next time you drink it.

John Puma: 23:04
probably, I feel like there’s a lot of artistry involved with what I’m drinking here. It’s a very well thought out and very well crafted.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:13
Yeah, that brewery is well-known for that. Senkin is fantastic. And I agree with what you said before that we, in the future, we should do an episode just on their brewery, their classic versus their modern line and see what the differences are and the fact that they’re making these sakes with the same kind of statistics, but with different production methods, a classic version, and a modern version. Super interesting. I’m super intrigued by that. And I’d love to explore that more.

John Puma: 23:40
Yeah, it seems like it seems like something, especially for the West, that’s going to be a little bit unique. Uh, something that we don’t really see a lot. Yeah. I think that’ll be fun.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:54
So we’ve mentioned this word Kakemai a few times and Kojimai, so mai means rice and Kojimai is, as you mentioned, that’s the rice that we use to make the Koji rice. We grow the mold on there, but is a word that we might not have used before. That’s actually the starch component and when we make a batch of sake, we use Koji rice and. The starch component rice, it’s about 20% Koji rice to 80% of the starch component. And that’s what that kakemai really is. So I think it’s interesting that your sake uses different milling rates for those two types of rice. And the Koji rice is really important because that releases all the sugars during the brewing. So they gave that the more luxurious, more high end treatment. And I really think you’re picking up on some of that smooth character in there.

John Puma: 24:47
Oh, yes. Character. That’s where we play. This has a lot of character.

Timothy Sullivan: 24:50
Fantastic. Well, John, I think we’re both taking really good steps towards an amazing 2021. We’re living our truth. We’re living our resolutions and I’m proud of both of us.

John Puma: 25:03
Oh, well, thank you, Tim. I’m proud of you too.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:05
Yeah, let’s keep it up. All right. Well, I want to thank all of our listeners so much for tuning in. We really do hope that you’re enjoying our show and that you’re looking forward to a great 20, 21 as we are. Now, if you’d like to support our show, one way you can really help us out would be to take a couple of minutes and leave us a written review on Apple podcasts for us. It’s one of the best ways to help get the word out about our show.

John Puma: 25:29
Yeah. And please be sure to subscribe wherever you download your podcasts, because we don’t want you to miss a single episode.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:38
and as always to learn more about any of the topics or any of the sakes we talked about in today’s episode, be sure to visit our website, SakeRevolution.com for all the detailed show notes.

John Puma: 25:51
And if you have a, sake question that you need answered, We want to hear from you. Please reach out to us over at [email protected] until next time, please remember to keep drinking sake. That’s outside of your comfort zone, support your local shops and

Timothy Sullivan: 26:12
Kanpai resolution revolution.

John Puma: 26:18
resolution. Right? I think that’s probably going to be the episode title, right?