While I love all of the premium sake in our upcoming tasting this week, the one that stood out the most for me in terms of it's unique flavor and quality was the Hinomaru Jozo Manabito Junmai Ginjo. With a subtle fruitiness, it is complex, rich and smooth with a hint of earthiness. As much as I enjoyed it by itself, I've since had it with food and found it an amazing pairing with fresh tuna. You can taste it on Wednesday and I liked it so much, I've added to our list of sake available at the bar!
Founded in 1689, Hinomaru Jozo has been producing sake for the people of Akita for more than 320 years. Its rich history and loyal fan base have allowed the brewery to specialize in premium production. For the sakes in the Manabito line, this dedication to excellence means the sakes are bottle-aged for an extra year before being released. This unique practice, more similar in concept to wine production, is a source of great pride for the brewery. According to owner Jouji Sato, “the bottle aging prevents oxidation and flavor loss, and preserves our exceptional quality.”
The brewery’s meticulous attention to detail in sake making extends to their rice as well. All of the sake rice used in the Manabito sakes is specially commissioned by the brewery. Amazingly, many of the farmers who spend the warmer months growing rice then spend their winters as brewery workers, turning that rice into sake. The name “Manabito” is taken from a local mountain that overlooks the fields where the sake rice is grown, emphasizing the importance of that essential ingredient to the brewery.
With sakes that are both traditional and refined, it is no surprise that Hinomaru Jozo has been able to survive for such a long time. In fact, the brewery was founded so long ago that it is the only brewery in the country allowed to use the Hinomaru name, which is also the name of Japan’s national flag. After such a long history, Hinomaru Jozo is proud to finally introduce Americans to the essence of Akita found in every bottle of Manabito sake.