You can enjoy sakes per se but sakes go well with every kind of food. When you eat the dishes together with sake, you will understand it well. For those who cannot decide which sake to drink, a leaflet is provided which explains all kinds of sake in detail. I would like to introduce some sakes with which I was impressed.
*Chiebijin Junmai Ginjo (Chie, the beauty, sake brewed only with highly polished rice)
Chiebijin is brewed by Nakano brewery located in Oita prefecture. Chie is the name of the wife of the first master brewer. Bijin means beauty. The sake has a slight apple-like aroma and a little bit sweet.
*Shichihonyari Junmai (seven spears, sake brewed only with rice)
Shichihonyari is produced by Tomita brewery located in Shiga prefecture and is named by Rosanjin Kitaoji, a famous gourmet, based on the history of the seven samurai worriers in the 16th century. You can enjoy the sake both when it is cooled and when it is warmed. It has a clear and sharp taste when it is cooled but has a mild taste when it is warmed. I enjoyed both tastes a lot.
*Gunmaizumi Yamahai junmai (The fountain in Gunma, sake brewed only with rice by Yamahai technique)
Gunmaizumi is produced by Shimaoka brewery located in Gunma prefecture. The sake is a vintage one produced in 2007. Therefore, it has a thick and rich taste. The sake is brewed only with rice and by Yamahai technique. Yamahai is the abbreviation of "Yamaoroshi haishi". "Yamaoroshi" is to crush rice in order to progress fermentation quickly. "Haishi" means "disuse". Therefore, Yamahai means sake brewed not crushing rice.
There are a lot of other good sakes such as Koimari, Manrei and Nabeshima. I could taste only 30 kinds of sake. I want to try all of them next year. After the festival, you can bring back your sake cup to your home.
If you are interested in it, go to the web site of Sumiyoshi liqueur store, which hosted the festival, at http://sumiyoshisyuhan.com/.
Genrokugura, a liqueur shop in the brewery
Before starting the party, I looked around the brewery. I enjoyed a lot seeing various facilities such as tanks, labels to be attached and fune (instrument for squeezing sake).
Labels to be attached
The party was held at the inside of the brewery. There were various kinds of food stall from famous restaurants in Fukuoka such as Okinawan restauran "Hanahana" and sea food restaurant "Isagiyoshi". We also enjoyed sake cocktail made from Genroku-no-sake produced by the brewery. We further enjoyed water used in the brewery. We usually cannot get the water. The party started with the performance by Sanshin Robins. The band plays Okinawan music. Okinawan music goes well with sake!!!
Water used in the brewery
The Chinese character written in a red color means Saki and was written by a local calligrapher Mitsuharu Nakajima. He wants Koimari brewery to step forward to the future (Saki means "forward" in Japanese). The upper label says a junmai-ginjo nama zake. Junmai-ginjo types are brewed using only rice which is highly polished (no liqueur is added during production). Nama zake is sake which is not heat-sterilized (sake is usually heat-sterilized twice after production).
Saki is slightly yellow but very clear. It has slightly apple-like aroma. It tastes sweet but has a very clean finish. Therefore, Saki is very easy to drink. I drank half of the bottle only in 10 minutes! Koimari brewery produces only a small amount of sake. Therefore, it is relatively difficult to get one but you can buy one at Shirouzu saketen in Kasuga City.
You can find Shirouzu saketen at http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~shirouzu/index.html
This ume-shu is produced using sake. Usually, ume-shu is produced using shochu. Sake cannot be used to produce ume-shu because a liquor having an alcohol content of more than 20% must be used to prevent propagation of bacteria (It is illegal to produce ume-shu using a liquor having alcohol content of less than 20% in Japan). Therefore, unwatered sake is used for producing this ume-shu.
Ume-shu is usually sweet. However, Hakkaisan's one is dry and therefore you can enjoy it with meal (We usually enjoy ume-shu before meal). As soon as I opened the bottle, scent of ume enjoyed me a lot. Since it has dry taste as described above, you can drink it a lot. Its alcohol content is relatively high (14%). Be careful not to drink too much!
It costs only about 1400 yen. You can get one at Todoroki-saketen located in Sanchiku, Hakata Ward.
You can find its web site at http://www.todoroki-saketen.com/
Hitotoki is a new type of sake. Its alcohol content is only 7% (usually, alcohol content of sake is 15-17%). Both of them sparkles. The left one is a ordinal type sparking sake and has a slightly white color. The right one is a rose type sparkling sake and has a pinkish color. The pinkish color is derived from anthocyanin contained in a kind of ancient rice. The bottle design is also unique for sake. Both of them tastes like yogurt. The right one (rose) is sweeter than the left one. Since their alcohol contents are relatively low and are sweet, everyone can enjoy them. You can get ones only about 400 yen at Kanedai.