Ty-Ku Sake Junmai Ginjo

Nara, Japan; ABV for sake is typically 14 – 16%; imposing black, triangular bottle
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 Aug.  Almost certainly also at Berkeley, and probably many other stores.

TyKu_Sake_JunmaiGinjoI was pretty excited to hear that the GO was getting a junmai ginjo (more on that below) sake for a pretty low price for 720ml.  However, when I tasted it, I found this to be okay but not especially exciting sake.

So, about the sake terms…  “Junmai” means that it’s made from only rice and water.  “Honjozo” means that neutral spirits (extra alcohol) were added, which is not the case with “junmai.”  “Ginjo” means a good amount of the surface of the grain of rice is polished away, usually resulting in a cleaner taste of the sake.  (Sakes that are labeled just “Junmai” are often relatively more funky and acid.  The only grade higher than “junmai ginjo” is “junmai daiginjo,” which means that more of the outer part of the rice grain has been polished away.)

The first thing I noticed about this sake is that it’s fairly yellow-colored for a sake, although still more clear than any white wine.  The nose is definitely of a nice sake, showing aromatic rice.  However, on the palate, after the usual rich rice flavor, the main flavors I get are of mint and yellow peach, and I find the somewhat funky acid more like I would expect from a “junmai” instead of from a “junmai ginjo”.  The mint may even be sort of mint-chocolate-chip, which is really not what I associate with sake.  It’s pretty tasty sake for the price — for this much Japanese sake one could easily spend $40 — but it’s not as good as the two I reviewed recently, as I guess you would expect from the prices.  Also, from the amount available, this sake will likely receive wider distribution than the others.  (With this bottle, I also opened the “Lucky Toki,” among the three that appeared with the two reviewed at the link above.  I thought it was less good than the two I reviewed, but better than this bottle.)

The next day, I thought it was much the same.  For $7 for 720ml, this is fine sake, but nothing to rush out and get, IMO.

I want to add a few words about sake vs. wine.  In wine, I usually prize intensity and complexity of flavors, and their elegant delineation.  In sake, I usually prize purity and harmony.  I am not looking for a lot of “flavors” in sake.  Instead, I hope for the direct expression of the white rice and water, although that can take various forms.  I haven’t built up my sake vocabulary like I have my wine vocabulary, but I hope this helps somewhat.

2 thoughts on “Ty-Ku Sake Junmai Ginjo

  1. delmartian1

    For $7 we thoroughly enjoyed this Sake. It was silky smooth with a dry finish. Looks like it is produced in Japan and then bulk shipped to New York State for bottling. I had to do a little homework on Sake in general to ensure that I understood what I should expect from a junmai ginjo. This bottle had a little more color (yellowish) than I expected leading me to believe that it was at GO because it was past a certain age. I did notice that Club Bev currently has it listed at $24 marked down to $16 so my theory is that they bought too much stock and so have to clear it out since aged Sake can be very hit or miss. Since we have sashimi on a regular basis (Sprouts supermarket has been selling ahi tuna steaks at $5.99/lb all summer..crazy huh?) I picked a half dozen bottles of the Sake last evening, figuring that I’ll need to drink it up over the next few months. That only left about 3 on the shelf but Oceanside had a couple of cases set apart from the wine section this past weekend.

  2. delmartian1

    Found some in the San Marcos (San Diego County) store this afternoon. Will try this weekend paired with ahi tuna sashimi…stay tuned.


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