Sep 22, 2015
Did you know that October 1 is World Sake Day (Nihonshu no Hi)? First celebrated in 1978, after a declaration by the Japan Sake Brewers Association, there are a number of reasons why the date of October 1 was chosen.
First, this date marks the start of a new sake-brewing season that lasts all the way till April the following year. October also marks the start of autumn, a time when spring’s young brews mellow and start to become more complex. Coincidentally, the Japanese character for sake, 酒, also contains 酉 referring to the chicken, which happens to be the 10th animal sign in the zodiac.
Autumn also happens to be the best season to sample a variety of sake known as Hiyaoroshi. Hiyaoroshi is sake that has undergone heat pasteurisation once in spring so that it will last and mature through the summer months. Unlike most other seishu (clear, refined sake), however, hiyaoroshi will not undergo a second pasteurisation process.
Hiyaoroshi generally has a gentle and mellow aroma, along with a smooth yet creamy texture. It is different from nama-zake, which does not undergo any heat pasteurisation processes at all.
These limited edition brews go on sale from September to November, and are great accompaniments to other seasonal foods such as grilled sanma (Pacific saury) and matsutake mushroom.
Still not quite sure how to tell your “junmai daiginjo” apart from a “honjozo”? In the inaugural issue of Oishii Kanpai, bring yourself up to speed on the basics of sake in For Your Sake (p8). Find out more about this beloved beverage from sake samurai himself, John Gauntner (p4), and don’t forget to check out the many exciting sake-related events happening during the Sake Week this year! Kanpai!