A new Sake we have never offered before, we got acquainted with the Izumibashi Rakufumai a few years back at a big Sake tasting. We were recently reintroduced to it at a private tasting with a supplier. Izumibashi is a brewery based in Kanagawa, Japan, just outside of Tokyo and home to the city of Yokohama. Izumibashi believes that "Sake starts with rice," a philosophy not far off from our favorite winemakers who believe great wine is made in the vineyard. This brewery is part of a select few who go through the painstaking process of cultivating and growing their own rice in fields not far from the brewery itself and is dubbed a "Cultivation Brewery," also known as "Domaine Sake." Izumibashi has a team of farmers that grow the rice according to what the brewery wants, sourcing from 44 hectares spread over a few different fields throughout the town of Ebina, each providing a distinct sense of terroir. Sake with this much control is the pinnacle of expression and shows a uniqueness that is unreplicated elsewhere. Izumibashi is also part of the Sagami Rice Institute, a group devoted to studying and cultivating the best Sake rice. Having complete control over the entire process guarantees that they can achieve a level of quality and expression that may not be possible with purchased rice. The rice used for this Sake is a special variety called Rakufumai, and, to our knowledge, they are one of the few that produce Sake with this variety. Rice is milled on-site, and the amount of polish varies depending on what field the rice is sourced from, but for the most part, there is a 35% polish.
The Rakufumai is one of Izumibashi's flagship Sake's and is made with the labor-intensive Kimoto technique that relies on manual labor for much of the production. This deeply traditional method uses naturally occurring lactic acids and yeasts to produce a profound flavor profile that spreads from floral and high-toned to eathy and powerful. This Sake takes on a beautiful richness from this technique. While it exudes power, there is a lovely elegance here with the beautiful aromatics of ripe apple, fresh melon, a touch of anise, coconut milk, and minerals. It is incredibly balanced and smooth, with an apt sweetness that ties it all together and a pure drawn-out finish that shows lingering fruit and rice nuances. It is a beautiful bottle of Sake that has the potential to be paired with many different cuisines.
These are the last bottle of a recent shipment our supplier received. As we have mentioned in previous offers, we only buy what we need from our supplier, ensuring we always get the most current batch and are always refrigerated. In contrast, other places might have the bottles sitting on a warm shelf for months or years. US low pricing here today, this is a gorgeous bottle that we think many of our savvy Sake clients will enjoy.