Episode 110 Show Notes

Episode 110. It’s not every day that a new sake book hits the market, so we knew we had to sit down and talk with authors Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay about their fantastic new tome “Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth.” Nancy and Michael co-authored this book that focuses on the ingredients in sake and well as the microbes and people that magically transform those ingredients into the beverage we all love. The stories that come out of their research trips across Japan to dozens of craft breweries illustrate the skill, nuance and fun that goes into crafting Japanese sake. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for the history of this ancient beverage and the book also helps beginners and experienced sake drinkers alike gain new perspective on appreciating whats new in the world of sake as well. This sit down interview is part 2 of our discussion and sake tasting with Nancy and Michael – go back to episode 109 if you happened to miss part 1! Be sure to pick up your copy of “Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake” wherever fine books are sold! #SakeRevolution

Skip to: 00:19 Show Opening
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 00:57 Interview: Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay

Nancy Matsumoto (photo: Jennifer Rowsom)
Nancy Matsumoto is based in Toronto, and New York. She’s a published author as well as a freelance writer and editor who specializes in the areas of regenerative agriculture, arts and culture, as well as food and sake. She’s been a contributor to many publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek People, Food and Wine, and the Los Angeles Times, just to name a few. Nancy has earned three sake certifications and also maintains an outstanding sake blog on her website.
Website: https://nancymatsumoto.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancymatsumoto/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nmatsumoto.writer.editor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nancymatsumoto

Michael Tremblay
Michael Tremblay is also based in Toronto, Canada. He is a Sake Samurai, Sake Judge, french wine scholar and holder of the WSET diploma and level three award in wine and sake. He currently runs the largest sake program in Canada as the Sake Sommelier at Toronto’s Ki Modern Japanese restaurant. Last but not least, Michael is also well-known as the creator of the Sake Scholar Course, which is an educational program that he created to spotlight and teach about the unique qualities of Japan’s diverse sake brewing regions.
Sake Scholar Website: https://www.sakescholar.com/about
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtrsake/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mtrsake

Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth
This stunning guide invites you into the story of sake—an ancient beverage finding its way in a modern world.Whether you’re a sake novice or an experienced connoisseur, Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake offers fascinating insights, practical tips, and rich stories about this popular beverage.

Authors and experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay personally undertook the challenge of visiting 35 artisanal sake breweries in Japan, the US, and Canada to interview makers and document every stage of the sake brewing process. Nancy’s celebrated journalistic background combined with Michael’s sake sommelier experience have led to an engaging and informative look at the world of sake. This book also includes personal recipes from several top Japanese sake-brewing families along with food-pairing tips and a chapter on the authors’ own Japanese sake-bar-going adventures.

Purchase this Book Online:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Indigo, Waterstones

Skip to: 23:30 Sake Tasting : Mutsu Hassen “Black Label” Junmai Ginjo

Mutsu Hassen “Black Label” Junmai Ginjo

Brewery: Hachinohe Shuzo
Classification: Junmai Ginjo
Acidity: 1.3
Alcohol: 16.0%
Prefecture: Aomori
Seimaibuai: 55%
SMV: +1.0
Importer/Distributor: Mutual Trading (USA)
Brand: Mutsu Hassen
Rice Type: Hanafubuki

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Skip to: 36:06 Show Closing

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Episode 110 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello and welcome to Sake Revolution. I am your host, John Puma.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:27
And I am your host Timothy Sullivan. Today we are continuing our discussion with the authors of the new and fantastic sake book, Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake. Now, if you missed part one of our discussion, be sure to go back to the previous episode and listen to part one of our interview, but for now, please welcome back to the show authors, Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay. Welcome back to the show to both of you.

Nancy Matsumoto: 0:54
Hi, nice to be back.

John Puma: 0:57
Wow. I’m glad you guys can make it again. Hopping right into things. Last week, we talked a little bit, uh, about the structure of the book, what your writing process was like the challenges of co-authorship during a pandemic. And then we rounded up with some really, really lovely sake from Nara. Uh, today we’re gonna continue along those lines and talk a little bit more about, uh, some specifics in the book. A chapter that I really thoroughly enjoyed the bar hopping chapter.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:33
John is actually an expert in Japanese bar hopping.

John Puma: 1:37
Well, it’s kind of funny because, uh, as I was going through it, I’m like you guys went to so many of like my favorite places and talked about them in there. And for me it was like great to see, um, places that I really loved going to, and really appreciate being like, you know, immortalized in, in text. Uh, and that was a lot of fun. That that kind of style, the Japanese style of bar hopping, like what you guys experienced, meeting people along the way, those adventures, those stories is a very uniquely Japanese experience. So what were, what were some of the most fun, run-ins you guys had?

Nancy Matsumoto: 2:10
Yeah. Well, I can talk about, uh, My favorite bar experience was in Fukuoka. Do you guys know Kumorebi? And yeah, isn’t it great. Uh, that was one of my favorite experiences. So this was a really, really hot day, I guess it was July in Fukuoka and you know, the humidity is off the charts. We’ve had a really long day reporting. um, and often, you know, we’re just so engrossed in like preparing for the interviews, getting to the interviews that we’re not really planning our bar hopping very well. And it’s kind of like, okay, we’re at the hotel. Where are we going?

Timothy Sullivan: 2:49

Nancy Matsumoto: 2:50
somehow we, yeah, I know we had our priorities all backwards for some reason. No, we managed to hit some great places. So somehow we heard about this. So really it was like, I felt like the humidity was a, you know, off the charts just, uh, felt like we were swimming to get to this bar that wasn’t that far from our hotel. It’s a small, really nice little bar, very snug. And we peek in and we can see how it’s just beautifully, you know, that light wood pine paneled kind of place. And it just looks so well lit and so welcoming. And we’re just dying to sit down and have a glass of sake. Sorry. We’re all full. So the, uh, server who’s very kind. I think her name was Aiko-san. She shows us to this little log. On the ground, outside the bar. So we’re sitting like drenched and sweat sitting on this little log and she’s like, well, you can order sake here. And we said, okay. So she brought three Issho-bin. I think we just asked for local and she brought three issho-bin. And one of them was the first time that we would had Zenkuro. And it was a collaboration between uh Kahn-hokuto and Fukushima and, um, Kumazawa the maker of Tensei in Kanagawa. And so they were just all these locals, they were all delicious and we’re kind of like, okay, well, at least we’re drinking sake. We’re just looking at a little electric vending machine and it’s. Really hot that, okay. We got something. And then we’re about to sort of like slink off and look for some place to get food. When all of a sudden two seats open up. So we’re just overjoyed. It’s like, you know, it’s like getting to the Oasis when you’ve been in the desert for three months. So we sit down and we happen to sit next to this very nice guy. Who’s an intellectual property lawyer, and we start chatting him up. And then this really eccentric guy sits down. He’s like dripping in sweat. He’s mopping his forehead and I say in the book, he reminds me of the comic book guy and the Simpsons only not so mean. Like he’s just like a super otaku, um, sake geek type. And he’s like telling us all of the sakes he got and how many little sake fridges he has at home because he. He buys all the sake with his winnings, uh, from gambling at Pachinko. And then he starts telling us about his latest find and how we have to get it. We can get it at the train station at Fukuoka and we’re saying, wow, we have a really early train. I don’t know. And then he’s going, like, I don’t care. I’ll send it to you in America. then, uh, our friend next to us says, oh, Nancy has relatives in, in Saga. And so he says, I’ll send it to your grandmother.

Michael Tremblay: 5:38

Nancy Matsumoto: 5:38
it was just like one of these. Crazy nights where by the end, we’re all friends and we’re all taking pictures together. And I mean, that’s just their kind of really typical Japanese. Like you go in knowing no one, and then you end up having a great time and, you know, you just drink a lot and, and have a great time. So that was one of my favorites. Michael, you probably have yours too.

Michael Tremblay: 6:01
well, I have a lot of favorites, but I I’d have to say as a caveat. one thing that I loved, that we did on this trip was everywhere we went, in the fridges, as you’re sitting down at the bar, you’re seeing brands that you can’t get in Toronto, you seeing highly coveted brands that, you’d have even trouble finding, in Japan to buy, to bring home. So it’s really hard to resist the urge to go for those. because you know them and they’re you love them. and one of the funnest things was asking, what sake are you passionate about right now? Um, because I know I love it when people come to Ki and, are like, Tell us stories like just take us on an adventure. And I’m like, I, these are the new sakes I’m in love with cuz it just arrived and I’m so excited to tell those stories so it was really fun hearing from all the proprietors, we went to, some of them, uh, had a lot more experience in sake than others, but they were all equally passionate about it. And that was, that was so much fun. We learned a lot from it. And it was also, we learned about a lot of brands that we never have heard of before, or probably wouldn’t have even thought to try. So that was really cool too. It just kind of opened that sake world a little bit larger

Timothy Sullivan: 7:16
Well, you know, you. Have it’s such a fun chapter about your sake bar nights out in Japan and anyone who’s traveled through Japan on this, a sake, quest has had many of those nights and you have a little call out here. I’m sure you get asked all the time. I’m going to Japan. What do you guys recommend? You’re the experts. Where should I go? And you have a little recommendation here. How people going to Japan can enjoy their own sake adventure what you say in the book here is you say our recommendation for your own trip to Japan, walk into a bar with no expectations and place your blind trust in the sake expert. Then wait to have your mind blown. That sums it up perfectly.

Michael Tremblay: 7:58
it does. Yeah. Now one of the experiences that comes to mind, that’s not sake related was really fun, cuz it, it was with our friend Carlin in Hokkaido. We did a little sake trip with him, but we, uh, our first night there, he took us to, Sapporo beer hall, but they served Gengus Khan. and it’s this Mutton, that you kind of grill on your own, grill or skillet. and so. It’s winter. So I’m wearing this cashmere sweater and, and whatever things that are really highly absorbent of smells. And as soon as we walk into this hall, all you can smell is frying lamb and, and mutton. And, they gave us. Plastic bags for our jackets and bibs and all that. And, and aprons. And this was at the beginning of our trip and, uh, like, I feel like, uh, every time I opened my suitcase for a few days, it was like, ah, Gengus Khan again. Hmm. Great. Cause it just, it was so aromatic. Anyway,

John Puma: 9:01
Uh, if only if only they were giving you a spare sweater, that would’ve been great. Aha. Yeah.

Michael Tremblay: 9:06
but John, what you said about like a lot of the places that are in her book are some of your favorites. Um, that, that makes me happy cuz it, we, we wanna get the right places in there and it was hard. There’s so many amazing places in, in Japan to go to that. If we went back as much as I would love to go back to the sake bars in our book, There’s so many others I want try. And, and so it’s, I, I guess for the listeners, we’ve got some great places that we had, but there’s all kinds of other adventures to, to experience and don’t be afraid to go in there. And as the non-Japanese person, when we went to places like, I. I know Nancy pokes fun of it in the book, but, I have my sake scholar book on there. I have a periodic table of rice and I don’t really speak much Japanese, but Nancy would be in a conversation I’m like, well, I’m gonna dive in and have a conversation. And it was always a good conversation starter to show this. And it was always like, and it would lead to all kinds of conversation and then someone would grab my phone to show someone else. And we, we would just have this fun thing. And so it, it helps, uh, me bond and kind of get, comfortable with the being outside of your comfort zone, so to speak. And the sake helps of course with that.

Nancy Matsumoto: 10:22

Timothy Sullivan: 10:23
Yeah, John and I did a whole episode on survival, Japanese for Japanese sake bars. And we taught people how to say Osusume Onegaishimasu

Nancy Matsumoto: 10:33

Timothy Sullivan: 10:34
which was our most valuable phrase to get a recommendation.

John Puma: 10:38
Uh, I, I do think that the, the recommendation to go and find your, your own adventure in a way is so, so very useful, especially I think it’s especially going to be more useful when Japan opens up again and people start to go back because they’re gonna find that a lot of the places that we talk about may not be there anymore. these are just the places that we had great experiences. These are the places that we walked into and had an adventure. And I really love that you’re pointing out that, like, it’s not about the place, it’s the culture and it’s still there. You’re gonna find a place that’s gonna ha you’re gonna have your own great story to write about. you know, don’t always hunt down the places that we went to try to find your own,

Nancy Matsumoto: 11:16
Yeah, and there are gonna be great stories about, um, survival and re you know, pivoting and re redefining bars that they’ve been through so much. It, it would be really interesting when we all get to go back to see what’s happened.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:31
Now the, the book overall spends a good amount of time. And I love this part of your book was explaining certain things about the sake industry and about sake history. You piece a lot of things together and you go into a lot of the history and that is fantastic. And I learned so much from that, but I have to say the one chapter that really surprised me, and I really want to talk to you about, is the chapter on the future of sake. Some things you wrote in there, like really surprised me. So I just wanted to throw a few topics out there and talk to both of you about what you picked up from industry insiders and what your personal opinions are about the sake industry future for the next 10 to 20 years. The first thing I read in the book that surprised me was about the death of ginjo has ginjo run its course. That was shocking to read. So what’s, what’s the I’m really attached to ginjo

Nancy Matsumoto: 12:31
Oh, no, I hope it didn’t make you cry, Timothy. Well, we have a whole chapter on the brith,

Timothy Sullivan: 12:36
yes, it was birth. It was birth to death of ginjo. Yeah. So, so what’s, what’s the

Nancy Matsumoto: 12:41
will be after life.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:42
What’s the story with the death of ginjo?

Michael Tremblay: 12:45
Well, there have been so many birth and rebirths over the history, long history of sake that I think, I think we are at a really interesting time, uh, where you’ve got the changing of the guard. You’ve got all these younger generations taking over the family business that went to university and, did a master’s in molecular biology and understand yeast, but also traveled, we’re at a time. Well, pandemic aside is it was really easy to fly to other countries, uh, when you’re a student and see what’s going on in, in wine world or in beer making and see, the spirit of experimentation and come back and do that. And I, what I love is there’s and. We’re gonna be trying the Mutsu Hassen shortly. And that it’s a great brewery. That’s kind of has a foot grounded in tradition and is forging into all kinds of really cool things. But for me, the future is interesting. and it’s not necessarily the death of ginjo, but I like to imagine what is going to be the next chapter because brewers have perfected sake making they know so much now that they didn’t even know 30 years ago. And they’re not afraid to try things that have not been tried before. And that’s really, really interesting. And one of the things that is interesting to me is this whole idea of the henpei and genkei rice polishing. You know, daishichis been doing it for a while. They’ve done the flat rice polishing, the henpei, style and where they were milling the right parts of the rice, in general, when you’re you’re polishing rice, you’re conventionally, You were removing the unwanted parts, but you were also removing some of the wanted parts at the same time. And so it wasn’t really that accurate. You were just polishing down to a number And so this whole idea of satake who, invented the vertical rice polishing machine, it’s easier for them to, Polish the rice based on the rice that they’re they’re, um, they’re using yamadanishiki for instance, has a different starch heart compared to Omachi, which is Omachi has this big fat shinpaku or starch heart and yamadanishiki’s is, is long. And so polishing them the same way, it’s not accurate. And so this whole idea of, the henpei genkei means that there’s implications on, now we can actually start removing less. So it means that you could Polish the rice down to 70%. So just removing 30%, but it tastes like a sake where the rice was polished to 50%, in the conventional method. So that tells me. If you can do that and there’s results, to show for it. like, what does it mean to the ginjo and what daiginjo means The other side of the coin with the ginjo is that some brewers I’ve been told. Are tired of being told by restaurateurs or consumers that Daiginjo has to be this way. I think some of them feel like they’re being put into a box of what Daiginjo is. And if they’re trying to do something with rice polished to 50%, that doesn’t fit necessarily into that box. you know, It could be panned by, by them or something. So it’s I think those two parts is to me, implies, maybe change will come, but there’s a lot of brewers in Japan and only a very few doing it right now. So there’s, I think a long way to go to this evolution of where ginjo heads.

John Puma: 16:10
Yeah, I think there’s definitely something to be said about the, the concept that seimaibuai is like getting further away from what flavor profiles come from those milling percentages in a way that wasn’t always the case. Think that maybe when they put that together, it made a lot of sense. And as times goes on, as you pointed out with this new tech new technology, it just doesn’t match up anymore. And so does that, you know, does that old system really serve us? We’ll see what they do.

Michael Tremblay: 16:35
But it’s interesting too, when you think of ginjo, back then, and, and this tokuteimeishoshu uh, system, it was set to go with these early systems. And so it’s indicative of what brewers could do back then. If you built brewing to 50%, that’s like Mount Everest. It’s like, you’re gonna do that. It’s gonna be really hard to do. And you’re gonna be, very careful with what you do nowadays. It’s really easy to do it comparatively to, 40, 50 years ago.

John Puma: 17:02
so you guys also, uh, talked a little bit about the, uh, I love the phrase aroma bombs and, uh, wine-like sakes, you know, like, which is a, a bit of a trend, especially the wine. Like we see a lot of breweries that are going after that, that high acidity style. where do you think that’s going to end up fitting in?

Nancy Matsumoto: 17:21
Well, one of the things that I found really interesting that we put in that chapter um, comment Rumiko Moriki from Moriki Shuzo in Mie, told us. And it really had to do with all of this sort of innovation in sake. That is really very exciting in some ways, um, brewing a sake with Kijoshu and then aging it in a scotch barrel or brewing it with a shochu yeast for a wine yeast, or trying to replicate the quality of a sauvignon blanc in a sake. You know, there are all of these. Really super kind of out there. And I think they’re all really addressed at capturing that foreign market. And I think so much of what we heard in Japan was the futures in the foreign market. And we really have to get those Western drinkers in, and Moriki-san’s point was. You know for us as domestic brewers. Um, how far do we go down that path? And at what point do we really have to pay attention to our domestic market? and so many people, like when we were at Sohomare, Kono-san said, My father always taught me that you really have to first come your local customers. They’re your most important customers. And we heard that a number of times. So it’s kind of this push pull of identity for these brewers, and they’re trying to figure that out.

Michael Tremblay: 18:42
There’s also this influence of wine culture seeping in with some brewers and I don’t think it’s as bad now that some sakes have a, this acidity that’s through the roof. I think 30 years ago. Yeah, that acidity, it was like, what the heck are you doing? And, and maybe you were throwing outta the brewery, you know, head first into the snowbank or something. But nowadays I think it’s. especially, with, uh, younger generations. they can connect with it. There’s a new way of connecting with it. It’s making sake fresh as well. I mean, younger generations do look at sake like it’s grandpa’s or grandma’s drink, and so these new methods, if they’re a way of engaging new consumers or younger consumers, it’s not a bad thing, cuz I think there’s huge amount of room for a traditional sake maker. That’s making traditional sake brewery. And I want that to continue. I love historical sakes as well. I find those are really interesting to try, but seeing what you can do with four ingredients, rice, water, koji-kin, and yeast to push the envelope is really interesting to me. What brewers are doing, our chapter, the second part of the book, the Alchemist is true. Like these, these people are magicians with what they’re doing with these four. Ingredients, if you ask me and I’m also often asked Michael, you know, you’re a sake expert, do you make your own sake? And I was like, hell no, I, I will not even try. I mean, I’ll go to a brewery and work a little bit and pretend I’m doing some work, but making sake. I’ve it’s I, I, yeah, I just couldn’t do it. Uh, I just, yeah.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:19
You know, it is so interesting to think about the future of sake and how, you know, it may be some brewers may be chasing wine profiles right now. And as Nancy mentioned, Maybe some brewers are looking at what’s happening overseas, but one thing I think that ties all of these trends together. We’ve heard from brewers that they have a desire for sake to become a world beverage. Have you guys heard that as well?

Nancy Matsumoto: 20:49
Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:51
Yeah. And I think that that informs a lot of the back and forth about what the correct future course is for the sake industry. I’m curious to see how much of what’s happening here in the States or at breweries in Europe is gonna reflect back to Japan and they might start to amend those very strict rules about ingredients and production methods to come up and innovate with new styles. Do you think that’s in the cards for the future?

Michael Tremblay: 21:22
I think so, I think history tends to repeat itself and, in the sixties, uh, when the old system was replaced with the Tokuteimeshoshu System, you know, Part of that was a product of some brewers revolting against the current sys class system and the heavy taxations on quality, premium sake. And they were just stopping and that’s been echoed in Italian wine as well. If you go back to the so-called super Tuscans, it was the same thing. These wines that broke the rules and were kind of, okay, well, you gotta be called a table wine. They were fetching cult wine prices and, and, you know, winning, you know, awards and things like that. It makes the system not work properly. And right now, up to this point, I think the, the grading system has worked really well at keeping the majority of sakes within that kind of definition, but as more and more kind of pop outside the lines and they’re making it going. It’s okay. I don’t need the system. I’m doing this. It starts to make the system more irrelevant. I do think that also the influences, my hope is what the amazing things going on in the U.S. with the brewing scene, is catching attention. I’m sure in Japan and that will have some influence back home. And I’m hoping to see more collaborations. There’s already some really wonderful collaboration starting. and this is really cool too, is, is, uh, brewers from other places working together to, to try to do things. And so there’s even more collaborations in Japan doing that as well. And you know, again, that echoes Italy cuz Piemonte the Northwest of Italy. There were the traditional barolo makers and the modern ones. And they would get in fights over this philosophy of what they were doing. And so I wouldn’t be surprised to talk to some brewer and ask them about what they thought of this brewery who’s doing this really modern thing and, and it not being a very pleasant conversation about, you know, or nothing nice to say about it. And that’s fine. some people are entrenched in, in what they’re doing and they wanna do that as perfectly as possible. Whereas others are doing what they can. Some of it is marketing too. Um, you know, it’s like, well, we’re reinventing ourself cuz we were making low quality sake for so long and now we want to make less and it’s gonna be quality driven, but we need a story to tell with that and what’s our story, you know, that kind of thing.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:53
Yeah, well, speaking of sake stories last week, we tasted a wonderful sake with Nancy and this week we have a wonderful brand that we’re gonna be tasting with Michael. So, John, do you wanna introduce the, uh, sake that we have here to taste today with Michael?

John Puma: 24:13
Sure. Another one of my favorites. You guys have really good taste. so, uh, this week we’re gonna be, tasting, uh, Hachinohe Shuzo’s Mutsu Hassen brand, their black label junmai ginjo. Um, And the rice here is, uh, Hanafubuki polished down to 55% of its original size, the sake meter value that measure of dryness sweetness is plus one. 1.3 is the acidity 16% alcohol and Hachinohei Shuzo is located in Aomori Prefecture.

Timothy Sullivan: 24:51
Now Michael, you have a different sake from Musu Hassen with you, John and I are again gonna be tasting that black label Junmai ginjo, which of the sakes from this brewery did you get your hands on for, for tasting today?

Michael Tremblay: 25:04
Well, it’s a ginjo, um, as opposed to a Junmai Daiginjo, which I think is really cool. Um, and, um, it, it’s interesting comparing the there’ll be some similarities I’m sure. This one is with machigura rice, um, which is, um, a table rice. I’m not sure if it’s actually from Aomori um, I’m assuming it’s grown in that area. and, they’re using it for, for a reason. The Seimaibuai is 55% and 60%. I would guesstimate that the 55% is for their Koji rice and their regular steam rice. Um, so, you know, they left a little bit more of it on acidity is 1.6. The nihonshudo, is minus two. And, uh, I picked this brewery because of a few things. One they’re a they’re brewery rooted in tradition, but also doing really cool, modern things. Um, and also their, their family is rooted in something we talk about in the book, called the Omi shonin these merchants that that existed in the Edo period that were quite powerful in terms of how widespread they were throughout Japan. And so, Hachinohe Shuzo, their lineage comes from this Omi Shonin. And they basically, was established in 1740 from the first Komai to, to leave. He left the OMI area of Shiga. Um, so the OMI Shonin or OMI merchants, but they’re from the, originally from this OMI region, uh, around lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture. And Shiga Prefecture for those that don’t know where it is, cuz it’s kind of an off the beaten path. It’s not as famous as some of the other prefectures per se, but it is home to the largest lake in Japan called lake Biwa, but it’s right beside Kyoto. And the roads kind of leading outta Kyoto would go through Shiga and uh, the OMI merchants were there. And so they even a shop at the brewery called OMIYA place of OMI, which is I find interesting. And I remember when Nancy and I were there, we arrived, at the train station and we walked, we had about a 10 minute walk there and we had to go through this, this little fishing area. Um, and which was really cool, um, because Hachinohe has a thriving fishing industry. and, uh, and then we arrived there and right outside the brewery, we’re just looking around and there was a plaque that had the OMI reference reference as well. So it’s really interesting to be so far away from the land of OMI down in Shiga, uh, all the way in Aomori in the North eastern Tip the main island to, to see it. That was remarkable. And so the brewery makes two brands Mutsu Hassen, which you mentioned John and the other, which is Mutsu Otokoyama mutsu Otokoyama. My understanding is it’s a more traditional sake. and, it’s a local sake. Fisherman love it, that kind of thing. It’s a dryer style. And then Mutsu Hassen is allowed the brewery to really branch out and try really fun, modern things. like these sakes

Timothy Sullivan: 27:57
yeah. All right.

Michael Tremblay: 27:58
that we’re trying.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:00
Well, let’s get this into the glass and take a look.

Michael Tremblay: 28:06
That was great pop. love that. that

John Puma: 28:08
I’m stunned by that. I wasn’t expecting that

Michael Tremblay: 28:15
Well, cuz this is another sake. I know we, last week we tried, uh, the alpha, um, by Yucho Shuzo and that had a bit of, bubble. Um, and this has kinda have a little bit as well. It’s just a very fresh style.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:27
right, let’s give it smell.

John Puma: 28:30
Uh, and Tim, I wanna say just like last week, I see those little bits floating in there too. It’s most likely our little CO2 friends is that freshness and it is just a hair off. It’s not quite as clear as. Uh, as Niigata sake, like how we’re using that as our barometer for clear sake now

Timothy Sullivan: 28:53
let’s give it a smell.

John Puma: 28:55
that’s really pleasantly fruity.

Michael Tremblay: 28:57
I think that’s typical of the Mutsu Hassen Sake is they have that, that really nice fruit, but not overly unctuous. Like it, it it’s there and it’s really fragrant, but not like it’s gonna fill in a room and really piss off everyone else in their, in their room. That’s like, well, I, I don’t like that. You know?

Timothy Sullivan: 29:15
So there’s a hint of restraint on there. It’s not too perfumed. Yeah.

Michael Tremblay: 29:19
Yeah, and I mean, I’m getting, I don’t know about yours, but I’m getting tropical fruits. So like passion, fruit, pineapple, uh, little cotton candy and a hint of star annise in there. And that fresh steamed rice, quality, that comes through. How about yours

John Puma: 29:37
Yeah. Uh, for me, the cotton candy definitely is front and center. That is something I often get from Mutsu Hassen stuff. And this is, I don’t mind at all. Cause I happen to really enjoy that. So

Nancy Matsumoto: 29:49
Michael, I was at a restaurant recently where we had the pink as sort of a dessert to sake. What do you think. You could see that? I, I imagine.

Michael Tremblay: 29:58
Yeah, it’s fresh and clean and that fruit to me, it wouldn’t be a dessert sake per se, but more like a palate cleanser. Like it’s so clean on the palate that, it would be a definitely a great way of ending a meal, uh, and pairing, I mean, it. Not a lot of residual sugar in it, but with the right dessert, particularly like Japanese desserts tend to be sweet without being too sweet. Um, you know, there’s the subtle sweetness in there

Nancy Matsumoto: 30:21
Yeah, I was an Asian

John Puma: 30:23
Hmm. Well, let’s have a sip.

Michael Tremblay: 30:26

John Puma: 30:29
this is, um, dangerously drinkable. It fits into that category for me. Uh, most certainly.

Timothy Sullivan: 30:36
Yeah. And for me, the black label, this Mutsu Hassen Junmai ginjo has a nice compact structure and it’s really, has just a hint of richness on the palate and it’s concentrates those fruity flavors. And it has a little, again, a very gentle light touch, but a little bit of a jammy quality to it that I really, really like.

Michael Tremblay: 30:59
I feel like we’re tasting the same sake Timothy, because, and I, I, I can imagine these are too far off, in terms of how they’re created. But I, I totally get that in this as well. It’s like, you know, if you smell it and especially, if you don’t like anything too sweet, Um, you know, the nose has a bit of that sweet fruit smell and it could be like, oh, is this gonna be sweet? I don’t want this. And I, I, I like dry things per, um, I, I tend to like drier sake. And, uh, I think when you have this on the palate, it’s very clean. You, you get a bit of that richness and then it’s really tightly compact, as you say, um,

John Puma: 31:38

Timothy Sullivan: 31:39
That’s really, really luscious. So I do have to say for the record that I am super jealous of the research trips you guys got to do through Japan and writing book is hard work for sure. But thinking back to all the chapters, I read one after the other, you really got a sense of how this was a travel log and the moment. Left one brewery you were showing up at a, a Koji factory or the research center where, uh, flower yeast is created. And I just can’t recommend your book enough to people who want to get a sense of what it’s really like the inside and outside of the sake industry in Japan, you, you both did such a good job of, uh, pulling back the curtain and letting people have a glimpse into what it’s like to travel through the sake industry. And so much is beautifully explained that you don’t ever feel lost or what are they talking about? So, so really great job with that. That was one of my favorite parts of your book.

Nancy Matsumoto: 32:43
Thank you so much. That’s such a kind, comment and it makes me really happy because it was all about telling a good story and really kind of making it that travel log experience where just throwing in fun stuff that happens when you travel. I think that’s what makes a book fun to read, if it’s mixed in with all the other history and culture and technical stuff,

Michael Tremblay: 33:04
when Nancy and I met, we, we knew each other. We were friends here in Toronto, but we’d never traveled together either. So it’s like, okay, we’re gonna write a book together. Um, okay. Let’s do trip number one. you know, and you’re visiting three or four. breweries a day, you don’t know how you’re gonna travel together. You just hope for the best, and this is gonna be a very, very long research trip if you don’t. And I think, we compliment each other in many ways. For instance, when we’re out at the sake bar and they pour our glasses, I would always drink some of Nancy’s. I’m just teasing Nancy. a

Nancy Matsumoto: 33:39
It’s secret.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:40
what a gentleman what a gentleman

Nancy Matsumoto: 33:45
no, it’s no secret. I’m, I’m, uh, a lightweight you can, uh, tell after I’ve had a little bit of sake that I’ve been drinking sake. Yes,

Timothy Sullivan: 33:55
No shame in that game.

John Puma: 33:57
Not at

Nancy Matsumoto: 33:58
that Asian enzyme. Well,

Timothy Sullivan: 34:01
All right. Well, I I’m curious. So if our listeners are interested in picking up your book, which we highly recommend, where is the best place to get their hands on a copy your book and, uh, where can they go to learn more?

Nancy Matsumoto: 34:14
We’re on all of the major book seller. Whose names you all know? many of our friends have very noble said I’m not buying from them and I’m waiting for it to get to my local independent. So we’ve kind of made a little project of going to some of these bookstores to sign books. So we were at Kitchen Arts and Letters, which is an amazing bookstore on the upper east side of Manhattan that I highly recommend an incredible place for cookbooks and books about drink. Um, we’re in Kinokuniya, we signed books there. And then here in Toronto, we were at Queen Books, which is in Michael’s neighborhood. And, um, also coming to the Jenforth bookstore. So I would say it’s trickling into even the local bookstores, definitely on the online sellers. And I think it’s available through the Ki website, right? Michael.

Michael Tremblay: 35:02
It is. Yeah, we, bought a, a bunch of copies. So if. You’re if you’re visiting Toronto and you’re not from, from Toronto, bring your book if you bought it, or if not, stop in the Ki and we’re, we’re selling it there. And we’ll we, uh, Nancy and I, autographed a whole bunch of them as well,

Nancy Matsumoto: 35:16
And, also. We have websites. Mine is NancyMatsumoto.com. Michael has his sake, scholar website and runs social media. I’m @NancyMatsumoto.

Michael Tremblay: 35:28
And. I’m @MTRsake

Timothy Sullivan: 35:29
So if you’re interested in learning about where to buy the book and how to connect with Nancy or Michael on the social media, We’ll have it all linked up in our show notes. Michael Nancy, thank you so much for introducing us to your wonderful book. It was so great to learn about it, and I could really pick up on all your passion for sake, and it was so great to taste sake with both of you as well. We certainly do encourage our listeners to run, not walk and go pick up your fantastic book, exploring the world of Japanese craft sake. And we can’t wait to have you back on the show for a future episode.

Nancy Matsumoto: 36:05
Thank you.

Timothy Sullivan: 36:06
all right. I’d like to send out a special thank you to our patrons. Thanks to your generosity. We are able to produce, edit and bring you a new episode of Sake Revolution each and every week. If you’d like to show your support for the show, please visit us at Patreon.com/SakeRevolution.

John Puma: 36:23
And if you’re a listener out there who wants to contact us directly. Please email us [email protected] We do look forward to hearing from you guys. So until next time, please grab a glass. Remember to keep drinking sake and

Nancy Matsumoto: 36:42