Katsuyama was founded in 1688 by the famed Samurai Leader and great tactician Date Masamune in what is Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture today. Masamune wanted a sake brewery that was the best in Japan, worthy of being served to a Feudal Lord. Following Masamune's influence, three centuries of technique later, Katsuyama still makes one of Japan's greatest Sakes. Diamond Akatsuki is the ultimate marriage of tradition and technology. Through a painstakingly detailed process, only one tank in the fermentation room a week out of over 50 produces Diamond Akatsuki.
The rice used is the King of Rice, Yamada Nishiki polished down to 35% and fermented with water from an old spring within walking distance of the brewery. What makes this special is that instead of the mash being squeezed to separate the sake or even a drip method, a centrifuge is used, which separates the finished sake, leaving the very finest and pure droplets behind. This level of purity and clarity is only possible with the use of a centrifuge, so much so that many other sake producers use this on their finest bottlings. Our Bar for sake has been set very high, and the night we tasted Diamond, it was among a few other great high-end sakes. Still, this managed to stand out quite dramatically and take our spot for one of the best sakes we have ever experienced.
The nose expresses melon, acacia, fennel seed, minerals, muskat, spearmint, and a high toned floral note upon pouring. As it warms up slightly and gets more oxygen, it starts to display more savory notes, as well as honey and chestnut. The palate is an ethereal experience, an accurate representation of incredible power gracefully intertwined with elegance. This has a silky smooth and coating mouthfeel with an excellent full-body that carries a weightless effect on the tongue. The Diamond is perfectly balanced, concentrated, and incredibly long on the finish, lingering on the palate with a mineral and floral notes with dry extract for minutes. There is a beautifully placed touch of rice sweetness on the palate that complements the laser-like acidity flawlessly. It is also important to note the umami flavor that carries throughout the palate, which Katsuyama explains is one of the most critical aspects of this sake. This is best experienced in a wine glass and the perfect match for high-end sushi or Kaiseki, a multi-course meal. While none captures all the aspects that make an excellent sake, and like a great Burgundy or Champagne tasting, and while we may not be Feudal Lords, this is an unforgettable experience. Those who are worried about needing to finish a bottle in one sitting, fear not, we have had the bottle open for a week, and it's still singing.