We just received a new shipment of the Tatenokawa 18, which has become a staple amongst our clients for high-end selections. After meeting with the ambassador for Tatenokawa a few months back, we have an even greater appreciation for their Sake. The work that Tatenokawa puts into this Sake goes above and beyond the Junmai Daiginjo level, with rice polished down to a staggering 18%, where 50% is the norm. We were shown some of the rice they use specifically for this Sake, and the polished rice is no bigger than a grain of sand. The outer shell is polished away, leaving the most flavorful and umami part of the rice while also amplifying its purity. There is just such an incredible amount of detail here, and it is elegant, pure, and ethereal. It's one of the best Sake we have had the pleasure of trying and is highly recommended for the serious Sake lover at this low pricing. The 18 would be something fun to enjoy over the holiday and also make a very fun beverage to have for New Year's celebrations.
A few savvy Sake drinking clients have requested this Sake, and we were able to get a few cases after trying a bottle this past weekend. With over 180 years of Sake making experience, Tatenokawa was founded in 1832 when the head of the Uesugi clan first visited Shonai located between Akita and Niigata, and was mesmerized by the quality of the water knowing it would be the basis for great Sake. Their production and renown peaked in 1855 when it was given as a gift to the Daimyo of the Shonai Clan, Sakai Tadakatsu, who christened the name Tatenokawa, or Castle Brook.
Tatenokawa, since the very beginning, has been set on producing the most sensational Sake possible, and their steadfast philosophy for the best has afforded them the ability to make legendary Sake.
The '18' is one of their most extravagant and luxurious part of the lineup that they have dubbed "extreme," featuring high polish ratios unseen across Japan. A reference to the percentage of rice left after polishing, only 18% of the Yamada Nishiki rice remains, removing 82% of the total surface and leaving just the tiny core of the rice. This is extreme, considering that the standard is 35%, but the results are nothing short of extraordinary. The 18 is also only made with the nakadori or middle cut pressing, which is considered the highest quality, not unlike the Coeur de Cuvee in Champagne.
18 is an incredibly pure, elegant, and refined Sake with lovely aromatics that bounce from yuzu, lychee, and melon to subtle banana and strawberry notes. There is also a fantastic floral perfume here, with creme fraiche and minerals. The purity is also notable on the palate, showing a very clean, velvety texture that is mouth-coating and balanced yet powerful from the start to the long finish. Mouthwatering, the 18 has a "phantom feel" like the Tokugetsu some of our clients may be familiar with but with an enhancing sweetness akin to a perfect dosage in Champagne. It is a revelatory bottle of Sake that has the power and elegance of Grand Cru Burgundy and would go very well with traditional Japanese cuisine and bolder flavors like curry.