Fall Hiyaoroshi! - Shichida Aiyama 75 Junmai
Autumn amazement that hits every mark. Shichida is one of our favorite sake brands. They center their craft on making sakes which are complex, deeply layere...
Autumn amazement that hits every mark.
Shichida is one of our favorite sake brands. They center their craft on making sakes which are complex, deeply layered, and not overpowered. They are masters of elegance and sophistication.
Their Aiyama 75 Junmai Hiyaoroshi is a limited edition fall release, made by lightly pasteurizing a small amount Shichida's fresh spring-released namazake, and then storing it over the summer. The brief pasteurization works as a tool to dial back the brash and overpowering qualities of fresh spring sake, and also allows for the sake to be aged over the summer in a cool and quiet part of the brewery. That short aging until its release in the fall has a wonderful effect of deepening the sake's complexity, depth, and harmony. Fall Hiyaoroshi sake are always released in limited amounts, so once they're gone, they're gone until next year.
Visually, Shichida Aiyama 75 is clear, bright, and pale golden-hued.
On the nose, you'll can look for a clean and subtle array of herbs and flowers that grows and evolves in magnificent ways, bringing new notes to the fore with each sip. My journey started with lavender, sage, and bison grass, which was shortly replaced by the most wonderful and and pure rose blossom aroma. In turns, the floral notes would briefly depart to make room for fruit notes of juicy pear. Undercurrent to the whole show was an structural, slightly savory aromatic backbone of toasted pita, cashew, and stages of decay of autumn leaves.
On the palate, this Hiyaoroshi is medium-dry, with wonderfully present acidity. The acid sits nicely atop a gem-like structure of multifaceted density. There is power here, but it comes across wise and restrained. The palate unfolds in a graceful arc of flavors that finishes beautiful and soft, with energy, spirit, and lightness. Flavors reflect the aromatics, especially the rose, herbal, and pear qualities, as well as the lightly savory toast and nuts quality. In the way that Shichida nails it every time, there is balance between savory, fruit, floral, and herbaceousness. Texturally, the sake is silky and springwater-like.
Given the gradual and stunning development of flavors and aromas that unfolded through the tasting, I would go so far as to experimenting with decanting this sake next time I drink it. Or, I would not shy away from drinking a glass, and then putting the open bottle away in the fridge for a couple weeks or months. The more time it spent in the glass, the deeper and more layered it appeared.
Drink this chilled, room temperature, or warm. My favorite was drinking it just slightly chilled, and watching it unfold as the temperature gradually increased in the glass.
Rice and brewing
Shichida's Aiyama 75 Junmai is made from locally grown Aiyama rice. Aiyama has been called a "thoroughbred" sake rice, as it is a decedent of Yamada Nishiki and Omachi, who are both rice royalty in the sake world. Aiyama is prized for its soft and silky qualities, as well as its ability to bring both savory and fruity qualities to its sake. The rice is polished to 75% before brewing.
Shichida brand is brewed by the 150 year old Tenzan brewery, located in Saga prefecture and is named after the sixth-generation kuramoto, Kensuke Shichida.
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