The Soto brand may be run from its headquarters in Florida but their sake is genuine, made using all natural ingredients and traditional practices in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. All three of the sakes we are trying today are junmai, which means “pure rice” and requires that the sake be made exclusively with rice, water, yeast, and koji. No sugar, additives, or alcohol may be added. The name Soto means “outside” and is intended to evoke nature and natural ingredients. The third sake we’re trying is a collaboration with Mitobe Sake Brewery. More about that one when we try it. Let’s give them a taste.
Soto Junmai Sake – This sake shows a floral and fruity nose with notes of pear and cream along with light grain. The palate is light but creamy with gentle flavors of yellow delicious apple, pleasant rice, and a touch of umami. For the price, this is a lovely sake that can accompany any number of lighter dishes and would pair perfectly with sashimi. A- / $22 per 720ml bottle
Soto Junmai Daiginjo Sake – The nose is very nice, offering gently sweet notes of apple, heather, and honeydew. The palate is surprisingly different than the nose. Savory umami comes first, followed by strawberries and cream along with a creamy mouthfeel. Midpalate, a mineral note appears and lingers through the long finish. This sake is more assertive than the first and would pair better with heartier foods. I would love to have it with teriyaki or barbecued chicken. A / $43 per 720ml bottle
Soto X Yamagata Masamune Omachi Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo – This collaboration between Soto and Mitobe Sake Brewery uses Omachi, a rice strain that can be challenging to brew with but which yields complex, distinctive sakes. This is the first collaboration between these two sake brewers with the promise of more to follow. The nose introduces lovely, gently balanced notes of strawberry, melon, and light, briny umami. The palate follows suit beautifully and is even more complex. Bright melon and strawberry are joined midpalate by a flinty minerality and herbal depth. The flavors are bolder than expected. The umami note is restrained and appears in the long finish as all of the notes roll playfully across the tongue. This sake could accompany a range of foods and pair beautifully with oysters, but I prefer to have it by itself. It is complex and delicious, and rewards special attention. A / $150 per 720ml bottle