Holiday Sake Tasting!

HO HO HO! Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings from The Sake Shop! Well it’s finally here, the last sake tasting of the year! It’s hard to believe that 2013 will be over in just a few weeks. We plan to end the year on a high note with a super duper sake tasting!

Our “Sake Santa” Yoshi from World Sake Imports will be here this Saturday to spread his goodwill and cheer! And by goodwill and cheer, we mean he’ll be pouring EIGHT different sake for your tasting pleasure, including a brand new sake to Hawaii that is brewed using a 300-year old recipe!

With Christmas and New Years Day just around the corner, this tasting will be the perfect opportunity to pick up some great Christmas gifts or to start your New Years sake purchasing early.

Whatever your fancy may be, please be sure to stop by this Saturday and join us for the last sake tasting of the year.  Say hi to our “Sake Santa” and come help us celebrate the ending of 2013 with some delicious sake!

Saturday, December 14, 2013
2:00pm to 7:30pm 


Delightfully sweet and bursting with umami goodness, Time Machine is brewed using a method recorded in 1712. The yeast starter is kimoto and is made using wild yeast, and the koji production takes twenty-four hours longer than the modern method. This methodology predates mass-production techniques, and entails a great deal of extra time and effort.

Seitoku Junmai Ginjo Genshu

Many of you are already familiar with Seitoku Junmai Ginjo in the beautiful blue bottle. A light, graceful and refined ginjo with lingering notes of lychee. Well, let me introduce you to her BIG BROTHER, Seitoku Junmai Ginjo GENSHU! BIG BROTHER here is the undiluted full strength version or “genshu”! At 17% alcohol, it’s considerably more potent, but still maintains the clarity and balance of its lighter, equally aromatic little sister.

Kamoizumi Red Maple
“Red Maple”
Ginjo Nama Genshu

The PHANTOM sake that was originally discontinued after it’s first and only batch (or so we thought) in 2009. A 2-year cold aged unpasteurized and undiluted (genshu) sake that quickly became a favorite amongst many of you a few years ago. Well, to our surprise and delight, Red Maple is back again in limited quantities, and we’ll be sampling a new batch of it this Saturday.

Kokuryu Ryu
“Gold Dragon”

Elegant, sophisticated sake that was once served in First Class on Japan Airlines. The soft water of Fukui, combined with the robust Kokuryu brewing style, produces a sake that is gentle and firm. It has a faint, cedar-like woodiness, and an incisive melding of flavor and aroma.

Kokuryu Tokusen

“Crystal Dragon”

Kokuryu Tokusen or “Crystal Dragon” expresses its ginjo identity not through fragrant aroma but with decisively good taste. Its hallmarks are strength, flavor depth and, one notices at last, imperturbable balance. Excellent sake with a subtle banana finish.

Dewazakura Ichiro

“Abbey Road”

We sampled this last month and it was so well received we decided to sample it again! Dewazakura Ichiro is brand new to Hawaii and a Gold winner from the recent Joy of Sake 2013/US National Appraisals. Fresh meadow imprint of flowers and grass billows out into a fuller flavor profile replete with young fruit. A dry gently fading finish rounds the circle. Top-scoring sake entry at the London 2008 International Wine Challenge and one of Malcolm’s new favorites.

Tedorigawa Daiginjo

“Chrysanthemum Meadow”

Brewed using the old school Yamahai method, this complex Daiginjo begins with an enticing imprint of honey and herbs at first sip, segueing at mid-range into a sake of surprising clarity. Supple, racy and eminently drinkable over long periods of time.

Tedorigawa Junmai

“Silver Mountain”

This is Nadine’s favorite everyday drinking sake. It is a connoisseur’s junmai sake, dry, sharp and smooth all in one. It’s mild astringency, characteristic of sakes made using the old yamahai method, is balanced by a faintly discernible sweetness.

It’s getting close to Christmas, and this tasting will be the perfect opportunity for you to sample some sake and pick up some great presents. Hope to see you then!

Malcolm & Nadine Leong
The Sake Shop

Saturday, December 14, 2013
2:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Back to the Future
Time Machine?

No, Michael J. Fox will not be pouring sake at the shop this Saturday. We just thought this picture would be a cool way to transition into our featured sake for our next tasting called “Time Machine”.

From our friend, “Mad-Man” Master Brewer Philip Harper at Kinoshita Sake Brewery, we present to you Time Machine 1712. A very unique sake that is brewed using a 300-year old method from the year 1712.

Time Machine

Time Machine 1712
This sake is fabulously sweet but not cloying. It has far higher levels of acids (roughly three to seven times) and amino acids (five times to seven times) than contemporary ginjo style sake.

A superb aperitif or dessert wine, with a startlingly wide range of compatible foods.  Great with ice cream and desserts, but also with blue cheese, salty pickled Japanese delicacies and even foie gras.

When the Time Machine recipe was written down, the limit for rice polishing technology was roughly equivalent to modern eating rice.

Rice Polished

As per the recipe, the rice is polished down to 88% of its original size, about the possible limit 300 hundred years ago, and also a highly auspicious number in Japanese culture..

Tamagawa “Time Machine” is limited to 468 bottles this year, and this is a once-a-year product.

Kinoshita Brewery

Kinoshita Sake Brewery
Kinoshita Brewery is located in Kyoto prefecture and was originally founded in 1842.  They produce Tamagawa sake which translates to “Jewel River” in English.

In 2007 their brewmaster passed away after 48 years of service.  The owner, Yoshito Kinoshita, considered closing the brewery but instead took a chance and made some bold changes to revitalize his business.

First, Mr. Kinoshita had his brother-in-law create a new design and logo for the brewery.  Then, he hired foreign brewmaster, Philip Harper, to take charge as their new toji.

Philip Harper

Malcolm, Philip Harper & Nadine
The gamble paid off immediately as Philip Harper’s Tamagawa Kinsho won gold at the prestigious Japan National Sake Appraisal after his very first season at the brewery.


Arnold Full StrengthGENSHU – Full Strength Sake
With so many different “sake words” to remember, it can sometimes be tough knowing your Nigori from your Nama. Well this time we’ve got an easy word for you to remember, and it has something to do with our tasting this Saturday.

The sake word of the day is “Genshu”, and it means undiluted or full strength. Just like my man Arnold in the picture, Genshu is strong, and can sometimes pack a wallop. (Okay, I know Arnold’s not holding sake, but it’s the only picture I could find of him holding a drink while flexing his gigantic muscles to make my point.)

Most of the premium sake you buy has an alcohol content of around 15% (give or take). What most people don’t realize is that originally these sake had been brewed to full strength first, which is sometimes as high as 20%!

While still very drinkable at a higher alcohol level, most sake brewers will add some pure water from their brewery to get the flavor just right. In doing so the alcohol level inevitably decreases, usually settling in the neighborhood of around 15%.


When a sake brewery purposely does NOT dilute the sake before bottling, the sake is referred to as a Genshu. Seitoku’s Junmai Ginjo Genshu (that we’ll be sampling this Saturday) is a great example of this, with an alcohol level of 17%.

As a comparison, we also carry Seitoku’s Junmai Ginjo (not Genshu) with an alcohol level of around 15%.


Tamagawa Yeast

Tamagawa Yeast
While researching the new Time Machine sake we’ll be sampling this Saturday, I found out something interesting about the yeast that Philip Harper uses to make some of his sake.

Most sake breweries use yeast that has been distributed by the Sake Brewer’s Association of Japan. These yeast have been isolated, identified and numbered over time. Some yeast like yeast #7 are very well known and highly regarded for it’s ability to produce good sake.

However, in the old days, before pure yeast cultures were isolated and made available to brewers, the yeasts that drove fermentation were the wild ones that were found living in the rafters of the brewery.

Yeast Being Stirred

Kinoshita Sake Brewery is one of the very few breweries who still use these wild yeast strains to make sake. Referred to as “spontaneous fermentation” style, any sake at Kinoshita that is made in the kimoto or yamahai style use these wild yeast to ferment.

This “spontaneous fermentation” style, using only fine rice polished on site, spring water from the mountain behind the brewery and the yeast and bacteria living in their buildings, is the same kind of brewing that would have been practiced by craftsmen when Kinoshita Brewery was originally founded in 1842.
Sake Bags

For the Holidays this year we’ve brought in some special “sake bags” for you to wrap your sake in. Made by a friend of ours, these unique bags are reminiscent of “furoshiki”, an elegant Japanese wrapping cloth.

However, unlike furoshiki, our bags are preformed to the shape of the bottle. They are much easier to wrap, while still maintaining the image and elegance of a traditional furoshiki. Hope you like them!
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The Sake Shop
1461 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
Ph (808) 947-7253
Fax (808) 947-7254
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Metered parking available on King Street, Kaheka Street & Liona Street.  Pay lot located behind our building. $2 for 1/2 hour Monday – Friday until 6pm and Saturdays until 2pm.  All other hours $2 for 5 hours (paybox).  Enter from Liona Street.  Unfortunately we are unable to  validate parking.

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