Spring Nama! - Taka "Noble Arrow" Tokubetsu Junmai 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 disappear quickly, so grab them while you can.
All about Taka's Tokubetsu Junmai Nama
This is the unpasteurized version of Takahiro Nagayama's Tokubetsu Junmai. Sake master Taka-san grows his own rice, pesticide-free, using organic methods, on limestone soils. He also sources his water from springs springing from local limestone cliffs. These specifics are central in his quest to experiment with how "terroir" (or, how sake can express the soil, the natural environment, the culture, and regionality of where it's from). We think he does an amazing job and produces something really wonderful and noteworthy.
For his Nama, we get heady aromatics of yeast and fresh fruit (including melon, banana, and citrus.) On the palate, lime, candied nuts, Thai sticky rice, and notes of limestone minerality. Texturally, this sake is big, spritzy and, chewy. There is a little effervescence going on here. It's alive!
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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