Spring Nama! - Rihaku "Origins Of Purity" Junmai Ginjo Nama
Nama season is here! Every spring, sake breweries release fresh-brewed bottles of unpasteurized sake in super-limited amounts. We are super lucky to get acce...
Nama season is here! Every spring, sake breweries release fresh-brewed bottles of unpasteurized sake in super-limited amounts. We are super lucky to get access to these, and have gotten as much as we can for you! Spring Nama often disappears quickly, so grab them while you can.
All about Rihaku Junmai Ginjo Nama
Rihaku's "Origins Of Purity" Junmai Ginjo is brewed with Omachi rice. Omachi is rare and hard-to-grow rice that often produces soft, round, and lush sake. Of further interest here, Rihaku utilizes special yeast that is isolated and cultivated specifically from flowers. Yeast plays a major role in a sake's aromatics, and although "flower yeast" doesn't actually mean "flowery aromas", it is very cool to get to have a sake like this that utilizes rare rice along with highly unconventional yeast. Furthermore, THIS IS THE NAMA VERSION!
All this fun stuff going on in the brewery results in a big and complex unpasteurized sake, that slowly unfolds and reveals itself sip after sip. On the nose, we get toasted nuts, yeast, flowers, peach, and banana. On the palate, this Rihaku shows bright tropical fruit, coffee, nuts, citrus, and rich cooked rice notes along with a sturdy backing of minerality and yogurty acidity.
More on Unpasteurized Sake:
Unpasteurized sake is a special thing. It's often lively, bold and punchy, texturous, and packing heaps of heady aromatics. The vast majority of sake gets pasteurized twice to keep it stable and unspoiled so that it can rest easy on store shelves, or in our cupboards at home awaiting drinking. This is the industry norm. An amount far less than that sees one single pasteurization. A lot of the smaller breweries that Fulamingo carries follow the single, in-bottle pasteurization protocol. An even far lesser amount sees no pasteurization at all. These rare birds of sake are called NAMA, or NAMAZAKE. Nama basically means "raw" or unpasteurized.
If Nama is so special, then why don't more breweries make sake this way? For one, leaving sake unpasteurized risks spoilage. Namas need to be kept cool in order to guarantee that unintended microbiological processes don't set in. (Refrigeration is the best way to keep Namas safe from this. A cool cellar is second best, and room temperature or hotter for a prolonged time is asking for bad funk.) The second reason Nama isn't more widely produced and available is that the bold aromatics and lively textures can be downright overpowering for lots of sake fans. This is especially true when we consider the elegant, understated nature of delicately balanced sake. In Japan, for many, Nama is considered a novelty, albeit a novelty to be celebrated and enjoyed, but novel nonetheless. It's kind of like Beaujolais Nouveau for wine fans. Fresh wine is fun, but every winemaker who wants to show you what they can really do will have you wait until the wine ages an appropriate amount before it gets bottled. That being said, sake is absolutely not wine, and the Nouveau analogy although apt doesn't quite account for the broad deliciousness that Nama sake can provide for us, even year-round.
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