Sep 5, 2008

Sake Tasting Cup

Kikijoko refers to a cup used for tasting sake. It is a white porcelain cup with two indigo blue concentric circles pained inside on the bottom. These blue circles are useful to check the transparency or clarity of sake to be tested and the background white part is used to check the color of sake.

In this year, I got acquainted with a person who is a board member and the sales manager of a sake brewery in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. Then, I have visited this brewery already twice. In such a case, I was very naturally treated with their several premium sakes at the brewery. He provided me with a kikijoko, which seemed to hold over one go (180 ml) of sake. Probably, this kikijoko is used for professional sake tasting. The thin rim of the cup is convenient to sip a mouthful of sake.

By the way, I drove the car to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji on September 1, 2008. Then, on my way home from the mountain, I dropped in a sake brewery called Nakamura Shuzo, which is not very far from my home. The brewery is making Tokyo local sake with the brand name of "Chiyozuru" and is located close to the interchange of Akiruno on the Ken-odo Express Way. On the premises of the brewery, there is a small exhibition room named "Sakezukuri Shiryokan," where a lot of tools that were used for making sake before are displayed. The displayed articles include a rice steamer, sake pressing tank, small vats, brewing tank, yeast starter tank, koji-making containers.

In a corner, there is a shop selling sake-related items such as sake cups and sake made in this brewery. You can taste some of the sakes sold there. Unfortunately, since I was driving this time, I gave up sake-tasting. Instead, I bought a large kikijoko for myself.

This cup is heavier than the one I used at the brewery in Nagaoka City and the rim is apparently thicker. When I later consulted an on-line encyclopedia, I learned that there are kikijoko's for professional use and those for general use. the professional use kikijoko can be used for a national sake contest held by the National Tax Administration Agency. The kikijoko of this type is light in weight and has a thinner rim. In addition, it has thicker indigo blue circles on the bottom helping sake testers check the clarity of sake. Seemingly, the one I have bought is for general use.

Nonetheless, a large-sized kikijoko seems convenient for tasting sake. When using such a cup, you can taste and smell sake more precisely. You can sip quite a good amount of sake and the wide-open rim of the cup covers your nose to help you smell the aroma of sake.

Today's Sake
Asahiyama Senjuhai (Asahi Shuzo)
Niigara Prefecture is famous for flinty, crispy, and meaningful taste of its sake. Asahiyama Senjuhai is one of such sakes, but this honjozo sake is drier than the average. The briskness of this sake may be good to drink it warmed in cooler weather, but, for now, I drink it cold since it is still hot.
By the way, "NIIGATA O C" mark in the lower right on the back label represents "Niigata Original Control." This is a symbol mark given to a sake that satisfies certain criteria for the quality of water, rice, techniques, etc. used for brewing the sake.
Seimaibuai: 60%
Alcohol: 15 - 16%

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