2014 Joy of Sake Gold Award Winners Sake Tasting

Well it’s almost that very special time of year again. No, we’re not talking about Christmas or your Mom’s birthday (Sorry Mom). We’re talking about something much more important than any of that. Yes my friends, it’s almost time for the annual Joy of Sake event!

This years Joy of Sake is scheduled for July 31, 2015. So to get in the spirit of things, we thought it would be appropriate to once again hold a Pre-Joy of Sake tasting at the shop with some of last years Gold Award Winners.

So join us this Saturday as we sample NINE different sake (Yes we said NINE), all Gold Award Winners from last years Joy of Sake event. Yoshi from World Sake Imports will be here pouring the good stuff like Masumi Yumedono, Dewazakura Ichiro and (usually restaurant only) Koshi no Kanbai Chotokusen.

Should be an awesome sake tasting this Saturday, just what we need to get into the mood for the Joy of Sake 2015. Hope you to see you there!


Saturday, June 27, 2015
2:00pm to 7:30pm 


Koshi no Kanbai Chotokusen

“Pinnacle of Perfection”

Delicately flavored, astonishingly subtle, impeccably balanced, this legendary label is the despair of sake critics in Japan, who confess that it’s flavor is impossible to describe.


Masumi Yumedono

“Mansion of Dreams”

One of the most elegantly floral and fruity sake we’ve had the pleasure of ever drinking, Yumedono presents an array of flavor nuances that include peach, melon and strawberry. Rarely does one sake combine so many taste sensations in a single cup … or finish so gloriously!

Dewazakura Daiginjo

“Mountain Cherry”

Wonderfully soft sake from our friends at Dewazakura, this sake is reminiscent of softly melting snow. It has a mild floral fragrance, revealing notes of peach and apricot at mid-range, concluding with a light and slightly dry finish.

Dewazkura Ichiro

“Abbey Road”
Junmai Daiginjo

Relatively new to the US, Dewazakura Ichiro has quickly grown to become one of our most popular Daiginjo sake at the shop. 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. One of Malcolm’s favorites.

Koshi no Kanbai Tokusen

“Vanishing Point”

From the very first sip, this sake displays a variety of subtle, ineffable flavors, which converge and diffuse just on the edge of the mind’s awareness. Its elusive nature has given Koshi no Kanbai the nickname “The Phantom Sake”.

Dewazakura Oka

“Cherry Bouquet”

Credited as being the sake that started the “Ginjo” sake boom, this well known sake has a soft feeling on the tongue. Oka’s transparency of flavor also matches the clarity of this colorless liquor. It is floral rather than fruity, though there is a touch of pear and perhaps melon.

Dewazakura Oka Yamadanishiki

“Cherry Bouquet Select Vintage”

Dewazakura Oka is already a favorite of many of you here in Hawaii. Well if you thought the regular Dewazakura Oka was amazing, wait until you try it’s Big Brother, Dewazakura Oka Yamadanishiki! Soft, supple and fragrant, like a Summer breeze wafting above the pear blossoms, you won’t want to miss this premium version of the classic Oka!


Dewazakura Dewasansan

“Green Ridge”
Junmai Ginjo

One of our most popular sake from Dewazakura, this sake begins with a floral nose and mellow fruity flavor. “Dewasansan” is a rewarding choice for wine drinkers who are new to the world of sake. It has wholesome freshness, a green apple tartness and a refreshing finish.

Dewazakura Omachi

“Jewel Brocade”
Junmai Ginjo

Made from Omachi rice, the ancestral strain from which virtually all sake brewing rice are descended. With a luscious aroma and ornate flavor that deepens and mellows on the palate, this sake is delicious both chilled and slightly warmed.

So please join us this Saturday to sample some Gold Award Winners from last years Joy of Sake event. See you then!


Malcolm & Nadine Leong
The Sake Shop


Saturday, June 27, 2015
2:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Dewazakura Sake Brewery
Dewazakura Sake Brewery

Dewazakura Brewery is located in the snowy Alps of Yamagata prefecture in Northern Japan.

Founded in 1893, Dewazakura is known for producing crisp, aromatic and cleanly balanced sake. The brewery’s sub-zero storage technique make it possible to enjoy their wonderful sake all year round.

Dewazakura is known as the brewery who brought the first “ginjo” sake to the masses (Oka) by producing an affordable ginjo sake for the first time over 30 years ago.

Prior to this, ginjo sake was only made for sake competitions and it was much too expensive to produce for general sale.
Masumi Nakano
Mr. Masumi Nakano
A couple of years ago, Nadine and I had the pleasure of first meeting Mr. Masumi Nakano, the President of Dewazakura Brewery. Since then we’ve been lucky enough to see him several times, most recently at last years Joy of Sake event.

You may have noticed that Mr. Nakano’s first name “Masumi” is the same name as a very well known line of sake also called “Masumi” that is made by Miyasaka Sake Brewery.

It turns out that there is a very interesting connection between Dewazakura and Masumi. So when you’re having a sip of Masumi Yumedono this Saturday at our tasting, be sure to ask Yoshi to tell you the story about this.
Ishimoto Sake Brewery Bamboo Fence
Ishimoto Sake Brewery Bamboo Fence
The farmers of Kameda in Niigata prefecture where Ishimoto Sake Brewery is located, long brewed nigori-zake to earn extra revenue during the freezing winter months. But in 1900, home brewing of sake was prohibited by law, which brought a halt to their activities.

In response, Ryuzo Ishimoto, wanting to offer the citizens of Kameda the opportunity to drink their traditional beverage, started a brewery and named his sake Koshi no Kanbai, which means “plum flowers blossoming in the winter cold”.


Seigeo Ishimoto
Seigeo Ishimoto
The foundations of the brewery’s reputation today were laid by the 2nd generation brewery head, Seigeo Ishimoto. He began using rice purchased from Okayama and Hyogo.

When digging in the backyard of his home, he also discovered a source of water that he felt would be well suited for sake brewing. The results of these efforts was the top prize at a national contest for alcoholic beverages held in 1926.
Ishimoto Sake Brewery Workers
Ishimoto Sake Brewery Workers
In 1913, due to wartime need, Ishimoto Sake Brewery was ordered to produce rations for the military. Consequently, the brewery began making wine, and an official appraiser of the Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Taxation Bureau, Tetsuro Tanaka, came to oversee the switch.

This encounter would have a profound effect on the brewery’s subsequent history. Ishimoto and Mr. Tanaka became determined to brew an ideal sake, without making any compromises and worked hard to perfect Koshi no Kanbai.
Tatsunori Ishimoto
Mr. Tatsunori Ishimoto
Eventually this sake became appreciated by connoisseurs like Dr. Kinichiro Sakaguchi, who recommended Koshi no Kanbai at a German party, where a European wine would have been the conventional choice.

In a time when heavy, sweet sakes were the norm, Hisako Sasaki, the editor of sake magazine was fascinated by the robust dry taste of Koshi no Kanbai. Sasaki introduced it to her readers, recommending it as an unconventional sake.

Her enthusiasm encouraged weekly mass market magazines to feature Koshi no Kanbai, further boosting the sake’s popularity and earning it a strong reputation that it retains to this day.

* The preceding information regarding Koshi no Kanbai comes from the book “Sekai ni Hokoru “Kokushu” Nihonshu.


Miyasaka Sake Brewery
Miyasaka Sake Brewery
Miyasaka Sake Brewery was founded in 1662 in the town of Suwa in Nagano prefecture. One of their sake, Masumi Yumedono, is a wonderful Daiginjo that we’ll be sampling this Saturday.

The Miyasaka family originally served as retainers to the Suwa clan who ruled the area at that time. However, following years of strife between the Suwa clan and the warlords Takeda Shingen and Oda Nobunaga, the family gave up their swords and turned to sake making.
Miyasaka Brewery Workers
Brewery Workers in Koji Room


In 1920, the brewery’s president, Masaru Miyasaka, appointed a 28-year-old sake prodigy named Chisato Kubota to the position of brewmaster. The two traveled throughout Japan in the manner of Zen monks, “knocking on the door of the master and seeking knowledge.”

This keen desire to elevate the quality of Masumi sake, combined with a shared openness of mind, was rewarded in 1936 when Miyasaka Brewing Company won the first of many top honors at the Japan National Sake Appraisal.

Foam from Sake Yeast
Masumi achieved even greater prominence in 1946 when brewmaster Kubota, discovering a lovely aroma emanating from one of the brewery’s fermentation tanks. He requested that an expert from the National Research Institute of Brewing be called in for consultation. Samples were taken and it was soon confirmed that a new yeast variety, Association No. 7, had been discovered.

Stirring the Tank
In the sake world, discovering a new yeast is like receiving the Nobel Prize, and only a handful of breweries enjoy this distinction. With its gentle, pleasing aroma and ease of use, No. 7 soon spread beyond Nagano Prefecture, and today continues to be used by over half of the breweries in Japan.
Joy of Sake 2015
Tickets for the 2015 Joy of Sake event are already on sale at the Sake Shop. As we do every year, we are selling our tickets at a discounted price as a courtesy to all of our customers! Be sure to pick some up at the our sake tasting this Saturday, or whenever you have time. Special “Early Access” tickets are also available for purchase at the shop.


The Sake Shop
1461 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
Ph (808) 947-7253
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Hours of Operation  
10am to 8pm Mon – Sat
10am to 5pm Sun