Episode 46 Show Notes
Season 1. Episode 46. Today we start a new series focusing on what could be considered the real star of the show: sake rice! Let’s call it “Wild Rice”, because, why not. One of the wildest of the wild sake rices is the elder statesman, the real OG, the been-there-done-that sake rice: Of course we are talking about OMACHI. Omachi is often called the “grandfather” of sake rice because it is not a hybrid of other rices, but an original rice strain discovered in the 1850s. Its known as being a little bit hard to cultivate and a bit cantankerous – just like a real grandpa! The trade off for all that bother is that it gives sake a unique, earthy and… hard to describe taste. Robust but complex with a true depth of flavor. Do not miss your chance to visit omachi town during your next sake tasting session. For now, let’s listen in as John and Tim explore the long and winding road that has brought us back to the future of Omachi.
Skip to: 00:19
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy
Kuroushi Omachi Junmai Ginjo
Brewery: Nate Shuzoten
Classification: Junmai Ginjo
Rice Type: Omachi
Brand: Kuroushi (黒牛)
Importer: JFC (USA)
Sake Name English: Black Bull
Where to Buy?
Kuroushi Omachi Junmai Ginjo
NOTE: Use Discount Code “REVOLUTION” for 10% off your first order.
Azakura Omachi Junmai Ginjo
Brewery: Azakura Shuzo
Classification: Junmai Ginjo
Rice Type: Omachi
Importer: Mutual Trading (USA)
This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!
Episode 46 Transcript
John Puma: 0:22
Hello and welcome to 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’s not a sake samurai. I’m our resident sake nerd.
Timothy Sullivan: 0:41
And I am your host, Timothy Sullivan. I am a Sake Samurai. I’m also a sake educator and I’m also 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.
John Puma: 1:00
Fantastic. Now, Tim, I believe today we’re starting a new series. Another one of our deep dive series, uh, into the world of sake. What are we doing? What are we doing? What’s new.
Timothy Sullivan: 1:12
It’s going to be wild. That’s all I have to tell you.
John Puma: 1:15
It’s wild… Could this potentially be rice related?
Timothy Sullivan: 1:20
Yes, this is our wild rice series. We’re going to be profiling some rice varieties. And we’re going to start with one of my very, very favorites. This dare I say, could be an education corner slash wild rice hybrid. We haven’t gone over to the education corner in a long time. So let’s mosey on. Okay.
John Puma: 1:47
Clean it up vacuum a little bit. You’re gonna pick it up. It’s been a while. Yeah. Um, but yeah, we’re going to talk about… Omachi
Timothy Sullivan: 1:55
yes omachi have you heard of omachi before?
John Puma: 1:58
have had Omachi before it is, it is actually the first, rice type that I heard of. If that makes sense.
Timothy Sullivan: 2:08
So it was like the first rice strain that you got knowledge about?
John Puma: 2:12
Yeah. Uh, basically I had gotten a bottle of sake that said that it was omachi on the back and I was kind of, I didn’t understand what that meant exactly. And I thought it was absolutely delicious. And I asked. The server what this was all about. And she told us that it was, the, the rice variety type of rice that’s used. And then this was the first time in my young sake exploring life that I’d ever heard, that, that there’s specific rice varieties. I mean, obviously it made sense, but at the time I just never thought about it like that, because I was very inexperienced though, in the ways of sake.
Timothy Sullivan: 2:47
Yeah, well, that is a great first rice to discover omachi really fantastic. And did you know that there are actually omachi sake rice fans and there’s, there’s an omachi sake rice annual competition sake festival every year in Tokyo.
John Puma: 3:07
all right. Well, I am, and you are omachi rice fans
Timothy Sullivan: 3:13
I think that’s fair to say.
John Puma: 3:14
I did not know that there is a celebration and a contest. I would love to visit this. It sounds like a must visit event for me now.
Timothy Sullivan: 3:23
Dare we say cult following. I think so
John Puma: 3:28
So, so what is it? What’s the story with omachi Why is it special?
Timothy Sullivan: 3:30
There is so much to unpack first thing, the number one thing that you have to know, if you only take away one thing about omachi from today’s episode, it is, omachi is considered the grandfather of sake rice.
John Puma: 3:46
Timothy Sullivan: 3:47
John Puma: 3:49
So it’s the OG
Timothy Sullivan: 3:53
Okay. Strike that. omachi is considered the O G
John Puma: 3:58
no original grandfather right now is not what that means. No, it’s not. Okay. Sorry. I’m not young and hip.
Timothy Sullivan: 4:06
the original grandfather. And the reason for that is that omachi is not a hybrid or a cross breeding variety. So it is an original, natural occurring variety of rice that they found in the, uh, Mid 18 hundreds and it gets its name from the town of Omachi which is in Okayama prefecture
John Puma: 4:34
The, the rice omachi is called ommatidia because it’s from a place Omachi discovered it, like, somebody was like, this, this rice is interesting. And, and we’re like, Oh, what should we call it? so all.
Timothy Sullivan: 4:53
Yeah. Imagine if it was like New York state who would be like, Oh, this rice is called Schenectady. Yes. It’s omachi town
John Puma: 5:04
kind of disappointed.
Timothy Sullivan: 5:07
Yeah. So Okayama Prefecture is the home base for omachi. It was discovered there. And did you know that omachi is actually, I call it the grandfather of sake rice because. It’s lineage can be traced down to many varieties that are used today. gohyakumangoku. We’ve talked about a lot and yamadanishiki that King of sake rice, both of these major sake rice varieties trace their lineage back to Omachi So they have omachi DNA in them. Really, really fascinating. So it’s given us a lot of great. Characteristics. And we can talk more about what those characteristics are that you get with omachi, sake rice for my money. I think that, trying to guess which rice variety is used when you taste the sake blind is really hard, but I think omachi is one of the sake rices where it has a more distinct flavor. Would you agree with that?
John Puma: 6:13
There is a note in a sake that sometimes I’ll notice I’m in my head. Like this is that omachi note. I have a hard time describing exactly what it tastes like, but, I can, I can sometimes point it out of a lineup and yeah. Oh, this tastes like omachi. Um, Yeah. And I don’t, if I don’t detect it in all Omachi based sakes but when it’s there, it’s really unmistakable.
Timothy Sullivan: 6:39
Well, some of the words that people use to describe the omachi flavor is, is earthy. There’s a very distinct, deep rice flavor that goes along with omachi
John Puma: 6:53
yeah, this, uh, there’s also like a certain elusive richness to it And it’s one of those things again, like when I, when I have it, I’m like, ah, Oh yeah, that’s that’s that, but I feel like it’s like trying to. Trying to describe umami, which is a difficult thing for Americans to put into words.
Timothy Sullivan: 7:11
Yeah. You know, as we mentioned, omachi has not been crossbred or changed in any way. It’s still the original rice strain and it. Therefore retains some of its exotic characters, I think. And one of the reasons that there are, omachi super fans is because of that depth of flavor and that rice-y little heart, you know, it is like describing It’s hard I taught a sake class once and it was for consumers So these were not professionals I asked everybody in the room I said who can tell me what umami means And this one lady raised her hand and she goes Oh I know I know umami is what you say when something tastes good but you don’t know how to describe it.
John Puma: 8:12
Oh, that’s awesome.
Timothy Sullivan: 8:14
And that has always stuck with me. And maybe is something we say when sake tastes good and it uses the omachi rice.
John Puma: 8:23
Let’s see. omachi is the, is the umami of sake Rices is where we are.
Timothy Sullivan: 8:32
Yeah, it does give umami to sake of course, but it is a very hard to describe characteristic that it gives to sake but it is delicious,
John Puma: 8:45
it is. It is.
Timothy Sullivan: 8:47
Yeah. Now there’s a few, there’s a few other things that are important to know about Omachi. Another one is that the stalks grow taller than almost any other sake this makes them hard to farm. Hard to grow. They’re prone to falling over in high winds and they are not an easy sake rice strain to grow.
John Puma: 9:13
One time, on a visit to a brewery, I got to go through a rice field and handle omachi and it was like a dream come true. It was
Timothy Sullivan: 9:23
to manhandle omachi?
John Puma: 9:24
And the stalks were alarmingly tall next to the other rices, because it was literally across the, like, there was, uh, a path and on the right side was the yamdanishiki and just going the left side was, was omachi.
Timothy Sullivan: 9:35
That’s so cool.
John Puma: 9:36
And one of the things I learned on that tour was that due to omachi being it’s wild rice, that, It’s really difficult for them to deal with.
Timothy Sullivan: 9:46
Yeah. I’ve heard from farmers that it’s harder to harvest as well. The height of the stalk and things like that. So it’s a little bit of a challenge, but it produces such a unique flavor that it’s still worth farming and there’s big fans out there.
John Puma: 10:03
Is it still a popular sake rice today?
Timothy Sullivan: 10:06
Yes, it’s in the top five.
John Puma: 10:08
Timothy Sullivan: 10:09
Yeah. Not top five. Rice is produced, but top five premium sake rices. So by that we mean rices that are grown specifically just for sake making it. I think it ranks number five.
John Puma: 10:23
Is, is yamadanishiki still, the King
Timothy Sullivan: 10:25
Still the King, but Yamada Nishiki would not be here today if it wasn’t for that. OG… omachi.
John Puma: 10:33
Excellent. Excellent. so I, yeah, I’ve learned today that I need to make sure that I make my way to, this omachi competition in Tokyo one day, this is like, this is like a life goal. Now, Tim, you don’t understand, or maybe you do actually.
Timothy Sullivan: 10:45
This is, this is a bucket list item.
John Puma: 10:47
Oh, definitely. this is something that must happen at some point a live Sake Revolution episode from the annual omachi sake competition. That’s what I want to experience. That’s
Timothy Sullivan: 10:59
If we could combine that with a trip to omachi city. Can you imagine drinking omachi in omachi?
John Puma: 11:06
Hmm. I guess the question is like, what’s more fun to go to a omachi sake competition, or to be able to say, well, I went to omachi in search of omachi
Timothy Sullivan: 11:17
I’m always scared of those sake events in Tokyo, the big, the big ones you’ve gone to. Some I’ve gone to
John Puma: 11:26
I have, I have a wonderful, time at them.
Timothy Sullivan: 11:29
But have you ever been chased around by a reporter or a camera?
John Puma: 11:33
I wish that sounds like fun.
Timothy Sullivan: 11:37
I’ve gone to several of these prefectural type of sake tastings, like, Oh, it’s, it’s Nagano Prefecture tasting in Tokyo and they rent out like a hotel ballroom and there’s all these brewers there. And. I’ve gone to those events in Japan and I show up and I’m one of the few non-Japanese people there. And there’s usually like local reporters who want to get. The foreigners point of view on this event and they see me across the room and they start heading over and then it’s like, I try to run away from them and they start chasing me. And then they say, Oh, do you speak Japanese? I’m always like, no,
John Puma: 12:18
what, where am I? Went to one in a ballroom once that was just like, It was just like a broader, like, you know, all these different sake brewers are going to be there and it was wild. there was a DJ and like an idol group that was like walking around and talking to people and the, um, The DJ was acting like a Hype man. the idol girls would like go to different booths and start interviewing the kuramotos. And, they would be broadcasting that throughout the room. And it was like, it got people really into it. It was, you could see like people reacting really excitedly it’s that whole thing. It was a lot of fun.
Timothy Sullivan: 12:54
John Puma: 12:55
So nobody followed me
Timothy Sullivan: 12:58
Were there a lot of foreigners there or was it mostly Japanese
John Puma: 13:01
like myshell and I were the only foreigners in there in the room.
Timothy Sullivan: 13:04
John Puma: 13:05
was a fun time.
Timothy Sullivan: 13:06
I think that, you know, uh, DJ and, the Japanese idols and sake are kind of a dangerous combination, so I bet you, it sounds you would have had a lot of all right. Well, I think it is time to put our. Umami-omachi theories to the test some omachi in our glass.
John Puma: 13:29
Timothy Sullivan: 13:32
So as we usually do, uh, let’s do a quick introduction to the sakes that we’ve both brought for today
John Puma: 13:38
right. Uh, Tim, what do you have?
Timothy Sullivan: 13:41
I have a sake from Akita Prefecture and it is the Azakura Omachi Junmai Ginjo. Goes without saying that the sake rice is omachi. The rice polishing ratio for this Junmai ginjo is 50%. We got an S M V sake meter value of zero.
John Puma: 14:04
Wow. that would be in, it has the same weight as water, right?
Timothy Sullivan: 14:08
yep. The same density water. Yeah. And the acidity is 1.8 and our alcohol is 16.5. Yeah. So, John, what did you bring today from the world of omachi?
John Puma: 14:24
Uh, I brought one of my go-to. omachi sakes. So when I think of omachi, this is like one of the ones that, that pops into my head. It’s the Kuroushi, which is a black bull, junmai ginjo. The brewery name is Nate Shuzoten and it’s over in Wakayama. The Omachi is a milled down to 50%. The alcohol percentage is 16.5 sake meter value is +3.0, so a little bit on the drier side. And the acidity is 1.7. So it might present as even more dry.
Timothy Sullivan: 15:03
There is a lot of overlap between our two sakes as far as the stats go. And interestingly, neither of our omachi sakes come from the home of omachi. So we’ve picked sakes that use omachi rice and are not necessarily from Okayama. So I think it speaks to how popular this rice has become across all of Japan. Yeah. So John, why don’t you go first and get that in the glass and let’s see how. The Kuroushi Black Bull. Junmai Ginjo how it tastes for you.
John Puma: 15:37
So I’ve got this one poured. And right on the nose. Is that my, I, I it’s, it’s just smelling this. I know it’s omachi it’s there’s a, there’s a riceyness to the nose, earthiness that’s there.
Timothy Sullivan: 15:57
John Puma: 15:59
Borderline touch of like a sweetness on the, you know, a ricey sweetness. That’s kind of coming very, difficult to describe, which always is the thing for me. It’s like, I love omachi so much, but then I have such a hard time putting it into words. Hmm, very pleasant though. Very nice light aroma. Um, and then the taste this again, it is, this is a go-to for me. When I think about omachi what I want to have it on mochi Bay sake And view very much the case here. It’s nice and full bodied. There is that, that richness that I was describing earlier, a little bit of a soft acidity and it lingers it doesn’t linger too much. it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But it lingers in a very welcoming way, but yeah, it’s, it’s nice. It’s, it’s, there’s a complexity here. That’s really enticing also. And yeah. Does that, that soft, earthy, rich hint of sweetness. Wonderful. And one of my favorite things about omachi based sakes that for the most part, they end up being very great to just sip, but also very food friendly. And I don’t think that I don’t think those two things are always in opposition to one another, but sometimes a sake can really favor one or the other. And I really think in this case, This can be had by itself. This can, this can pair wonderfully with television in the couch and it can also pair well with, uh, with heavier foods like beef. Um, I wouldn’t say necessarily spicy foods, but you know, you can definitely, I want to have a steak with this. This is like a nice, like dry aged steak.
Timothy Sullivan: 18:01
So I have a new hashtag for our t-shirts. Netflix Sake
John Puma: 18:09
that’s how I enjoy my sake Tim I’ve gone on enough, I think. And lavished how much I’m enjoying this sake. Enough. It’s time to hear about the Azakura.
Timothy Sullivan: 18:21
Yes. So again, this is our Azakura Omachi Junmai Ginjo from Akita. And I’m going to open this up. All right. So on the nose, I’m getting ricey notes and that same earthiness that we’ve been talking about all episode. Another word that popped in my mind to describe, omachi sometimes is robust as well. It’s not shy It’s not quiet It’s not retiring It’s more structured robust And uh it’s bold but elegant you know what I mean Yeah So there’s this riceyness kind of wrapped in just a hint of fruitiness as there’s there’s I mine has a little bit of a back note of fruit like a little bit of a strawberry aromatic going on but it’s really a back note Yeah And Yeah I think either of our sakes I’ve had the sake you’re enjoying tonight The black bull I’ve had that before And this one is in the similar vein of kind of putting the omachi aromatic forward So I think either sake you were enjoying today would be a great starting point for any listener who wanted to experience what omachi is all think these are both really good examples of those.
John Puma: 19:49
Timothy Sullivan: 19:51
Yeah, so let’s give it a taste. Hmm. Yep. So what I’m experiencing, I would call depth of flavor. Like there’s layered richness going on here and it’s not that riceyness. That’s all about. Grain and rice flavor. This is nuanced. It’s riceyness depth of flavor. There’s again, just that back note of something very lightly fruity going on in the back that just creates such a balance in such a nice interplay of flavor. Really great.
John Puma: 20:32
That’s interesting. Yours, yours seems to be presenting as more fruity mine’s as being a little subtly sweet. I think I’ve narrowed it down a little bit and it’s, it’s, uh, almost like honey, so it’s almost like rice and
Timothy Sullivan: 20:47
John Puma: 20:49
Oh, it’s so nice. and yeah, yours appears to be presenting a little bit more. Fruit-forward a little bit more like berry
Timothy Sullivan: 20:57
John Puma: 20:57
or something like that. And that sounds,
Timothy Sullivan: 20:58
Yep. Yeah, it is. But I mentioned at the beginning that my sake has an SMV of zero and that has the same density of water. However, my impression, my feeling from drinking this is that it is richer. It has more viscosity than that.
John Puma: 21:16
Is it, it feel on the mouth? Is it coating? Is it, is it cloying? Is it just drifting away?
Timothy Sullivan: 21:23
It’s a little bit more on the rich side and it feels like it’s coating the tongue a little bit more in it. coating the palate it has that body dare I say robust. So it’s uh it’s got some some weight to it And the thing I like about this omachi sake is Azakura is that it’s not trying to push just the rice flavor in your face. It’s providing complexity and it’s providing depth of flavor and that makes for an interesting thought provoking sake experience. It’s not a one trick pony you know it’s not one thing it’s got more going on and when you’re sipping sake to study it learn a little bit more I think that’s that’s such a smart thing for brewers to do is just to give that depth of flavor It’s really great As we mentioned a moment ago both of our sakes are not from Okayama the home of omachi I think it makes sense If a brewer outside of Okayama is going to use omachi they’re going to put it front and center.
John Puma: 22:32
Yeah. I, I do. I think that if you’re, if you’re borrowing some other prefectures rice and you, you might feel like you’ve got something to prove, and you might want to show that you can, Oh, I can, I can showcase this rice, look at this. Um, in all honesty, uh, I, I do love omachi but there are very few sakes from Okayama who have my favorite. omachi Does that make sense? Um, a lot of my favorite omachi sakes are from outside of there. Uh, it’s just a matter of when I think of like, when I think of that note, that special quality of omachi I think it really comes through in a lot of these other breweries and all these other prefectures and maybe it is they’re they’re trying to show off.
Timothy Sullivan: 23:17
Or maybe it’s just delicious they want a piece of the omachi action.
John Puma: 23:24
to it. There’s a lot to go around. so Tim, what about, uh, what about food what’s going on over there with that
Timothy Sullivan: 23:35
You were talking about steak and, uh, I had, I don’t eat red meat that often person in my private personal life, but I had some the other day and it was so
John Puma: 23:46
Does it make you think perhaps of omachi
Timothy Sullivan: 23:52
Yeah, I think that pairing would be really good. Um, and
John Puma: 23:59
Yeah. N not even like, no, no, no sauce or anything on the steak just this year. Just a nice let the, the, the steak speak for itself and let the omachi speak for itself. That’s who we’re going to get along. Very nicely
Timothy Sullivan: 24:14
Yeah. The steak that I had that was so good was super soft cut of beef. That was just drowning in butter and yeah, that’s kind of what I’m thinking of. Yeah. Butter. Yeah. And I had yakitori last night and I think that would be a good match too. So I’m, I’m going more towards like the grilled charcoal grilled meats. Steak chicken. These are sounding really good with the rice flavor and that robust edge that we get with the omachi sakes.
John Puma: 24:53
So, so we’re thinking grill, like that’s, this is the want some sort of, you want the food, you want fire touching the food.
Timothy Sullivan: 25:02
I want smoke coming off of my
John Puma: 25:05
smoke some fire and then some omachi and then everybody’s happy.
Timothy Sullivan: 25:09
Yeah, I really am. I would encourage any of our listeners who have not had omachi specifically before. And I think you were very lucky John, to discover very early in your career.
John Puma: 25:22
it became like, I go places and ask if they had anything with omachi and they’d be like, like, Oh, you know, so much I’ve had sake like now. No, I don’t.
Timothy Sullivan: 25:33
I know one word,
John Puma: 25:36
but it was, it was really a good way or an Avenue for me to experience a lot of omachi sake early on. And for me to understand the importance of rice in the sake you know, at the time you don’t know these things. but I think that’s why we’re doing this series. And this is just the first of many. We want to hit on all of the major sake rices, and then a few that maybe are a little off the beaten path. Right? Tim?
Timothy Sullivan: 26:00
Absolutely. There are about 100 registered varieties of sake rice
John Puma: 26:07
Timothy Sullivan: 26:08
we at least a hundred episodes to go. So any, any final thoughts on omachi?
John Puma: 26:14
Um, well, um, it’s delicious. It is difficult to describe and. There are a lot of really great sakes out there that use this rice. And there’s a reason why, uh, despite being the grand father, the OG, that, that this is still in the top five rices that are used all over Japan to make sake And even now, uh, there, there is a rice grower in the United States. That’s making omachi. So
Timothy Sullivan: 26:47
yes I that. That’s a great point. Yeah. So it’s, it’s lives up to the hype. I would say that it lives up to the hype worth seeking out and a really unique and interesting rice flavor in your sake for sure.
John Puma: 27:03
And the Omachi based. sakes are atypical of my style of sake Like my, I typically like my go-to style of sake it’s a very, easy drinking light, fruity. Omachi is rich complex, uh, you know, ricey, you know, it is not any of those things that, that, that on paper I look for in a sake it’s like, I look for those things, but also omachi which is it complicates the formula slightly for me.
Timothy Sullivan: 27:34
So when, when you go out to sake bars in the future, are you still gonna use that line? Do you have anything with omachi
John Puma: 27:42
um, you know, uh, when I’m in Japan, I can read the Kanji for omachi So I look for it and I do occasionally order based on that. I do. Occasionally if I see that I’m like, well, got to, got to try the local omachi for sure.
Timothy Sullivan: 28:01
go wrong. Awesome. Well, I am really looking forward to future outings. We can call ourselves the omachi hunters.
John Puma: 28:10
Timothy Sullivan: 28:16
when we take sake revolution on the road, we can find, omachi Everywhere we go. I can’t wait. This was really fun. Yes, go mochi and, uh, stay tuned for future wild rice episodes coming soon.
John Puma: 28:31
fan tastic. that was a great time, Tim. So, where can our friends on the internet find you? Tim?
Timothy Sullivan: 28:38
Well, I am at everything urbansake. So you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook under urban sake And the website is urbansake.com How about you, John? Where can people on the interwebs find you?
John Puma: 28:55
Um, most of my sake shenanigans on the, uh, on social media are thesakenotes That’s the sake you know, it’s not sake note. I know that’s a, that’s an app, that’s an app to track your sake drinking. Um, and the more personal stuff, day to day is johnpumanyc the website for the sake for aformentioned sake Shenanigans is also thesakenotes.com.
Timothy Sullivan: 29:19
Awesome. Great. Well, I want to thank all of our listeners for tuning into our first wild rice episode. I hope you enjoyed it now, if you’d like to support our work here at sake revolution, one thing that would really help us out would be to take a couple of minutes and leave us a written review on Apple podcasts. We appreciate it so much, and it’s a great way for us to get the word out on our show.
John Puma: 29:42
Also, you should tell a friend, you should tell a friend and you should subscribe and you should get your friend to subscribe. And then that’s two subscriptions. Then the. Podcast download to your devices every week without you having to do anything, you don’t miss an episode. We don’t have to remind you so you don’t miss an episode. Everybody’s happy and you have episodes listen to
Timothy Sullivan: 30:01
your device And as always to learn more about any of the topics or any of the sockies we talked about in today’s episode, be sure to visit our website, sakerevolution.com to check out our detailed show notes.
John Puma: 30:20
and if you have sake questions that you need answered, we want to hear from you. We want to know what rices we end to be, sampling next. We want to know what we need to be pairing them with. What show on Netflix is going to go great with my next omachi sake. Please reach out to us. The email address is [email protected] until next time, please remember to keep drinking all that sake pie Kanpai