I’ve always said it pays to keep on the good side of your local sake bar folk. I was recently lucky enough to sample a glass of a special sake from the utterly fabulous Toyobijin (Eastern Beauty) from Yamaguchi prefecture, their “Ikinonoktte kureta saketachi” (the sake that survived). In case you missed it in the news, a few months ago Japan had a little too much rain. Areas like Yamaguchi suffered some serious flooding and among the victims were local businesses including Sumikawa Shuzo, makers of Toyobijin.
Although the sake brewing season was over, the were still tanks of maturing sake in the brewery that toppled and were destroyed along with equipment and brewing records. Fans and friends from far and wide did what they could to help Sumikawa Shuzo get back on their feet especially the Fukuoka Brewers Association who helped clean up and even loaned then some equipment to filter, pasteurise, bottle and release the sake that was salvaged. Due to the lack of brewing records it’s not entirely clear what makes up the blend but they’re pretty sure it’s a blend of Junmai Ginjo, Junmai Daiginjo and Daiginjo. Despite the high pedigree of the ingredients the lack of records mean they are unable to claim Special Designation status for the label.
But obviously this sake isn’t about technical specs, it’s more of a love letter from Toyobijin to their customers and friends who chipped in to help them get back on their feet after great adversity. Fortunately it also turned out to be a gorgeous, fragrant, rich sake that I was very pleased to try. Great to have them back.