Review: Sakes from Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto, SakeMoto, Murai, and Yoshinogawa
Oregon-based SakeOne is America’s largest producer of sake, and it’s one of its biggest importers of Japanese sakes, too. Recently the company added two new imported sakes to its lineup. We tasted them both (plus two previously available expressions), and have some opinions to share.
Here are thoughts on the four new products, which should all have fairly broad, national distribution.
Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto Extra Dry Sake – A dry style, with fresh melon and light almond notes on the nose. Some earthiness adds curiosity (particularly on the nose), but the fruit is solid, with a big cantelope finish. Refreshing and easy to drink, with plenty to explore. B / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
SakeMoto Junmai Sake – A bit more rustic, with some bite on the back end that you don’t get in more refined sakes. Still, at this price you’re getting a surprising level of quality: mushroom layered with melon and some floral notes, with a fresh, honeydew-infused finish. B- / $11 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
Murai Family Nigori Genshu Sake – Undiluted (genshu) sake bottled at 19.9% alcohol. Unfiltered also, which makes it creamy and cloudy, an increasingly popular style. Big nose, bigger body. Melon meets roasted nuts, with a palate that features tapioca, sweet mango, and cotton candy. Easy to love. B+ / $25 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior (pictured) – Nigata (snow based) style sake, this sake has perhaps the most fruit of the bunch, as well as the best balance. Tropical notes with melon, lightly floral aromatics, and a lightly oily body that is still refreshing and clean, this is my favorite sipper of the lineup. A- / $27 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
Hmmm, the Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior (2022) falls far behind the review given above. Yes, it is a bit oily, and also a bit sulfury in aroma and taste – as the new label with fireworks hints toward. It’s still clean, but a bit heavy and entirely with out melon or fruity notes. It’s a disappointment compared to SakeMoto Junmi (half the price! and twice the taste) or the Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo (a perennial favorite – clean, clear, crisp, fragrant, light koji essence). Maybe next years production will be better after a cold, harsh, snowy winter in Niigata. I really expected better, so you must serve it chilled to improve the tasting notes.