Saké Spotlight: Ozeki Karatamba “Dry Wave” Honjozo

I love sake, but do not get to drink it as often as I’d like, unfortunately.  We have a respectable number available to us in this market, but I’ve tried most of them, so I look to a fantastic online retailer when I need to get my sake fix that you can find here.  This time, I was looking for a few selections that represented alternatives to the super clean and pristine examples that are pretty commonplace in the high-quality offerings that are the norm.  This left me seeking out some selections within the honjozo (additional brewer’s alcohol added), yamahai (essentially wild-fermented), and genshu (undiluted with water at the end of the brewing process) categories.  So, I am excited to explore the fuller-bodied side of the sake spectrum.    For my first selection, we will visit a honjozo selection from a brewery in Hyogo Prefecture, near the city of Osaka.  One of the things that I really like about sake is that, at least for the export market, there is a ton of technical data on the back labels.  This has been great while I’ve been learning about sake, and is great in a retail setting, since a lot of places will not have staff members that are particularly knowledgeable about sake.  Here are some of the stats for this particular brew: Saké Name: Ozeki Karatamba “Dry Wave” Honjozo SMV: +7 (negative numbers=sweeter, positive numbers=dry) Acidity: 1.5 Seimaibuai: 60% Rice type: Yamadanishiki

Ozeki karatamba "Dry wave" Honjozo

Ozeki karatamba “Dry wave” Honjozo

Alcohol Content: 15% Brewery: Ozeki Corporation Founded: 1711 Location: Nada, Hyogo Prefecture According to their website, the Ozeki brand name is derived from the sumo-related word for the ‘grand champion.’  When this name was selected in 1844, sumo was becoming increasingly popular, so the positive association between the two was seen as a great marketing tool.  ‘Ozeki’ sounds very similar to ‘odeki’, which is a phrase meaning ‘good job’, and this brewery has prided themselves on their product, while continuing to strive for improvement.  In fact, the brewery has been instrumental in developing important enzymes that aid in the brewing process, much like enzyme enrichment of grape musts during fermentation.  I would assume that they are a fairly large-scale operation, considering that they are near Osaka, have a pretty extensive laboratory, and have quite a few sponsorships, in addition to pioneering a pretty extensive network of vending machine sake distributing operations.  However, this is just an assumption, as I have not found any data about production numbers. When I was choosing this honjozo, the Sake Social website described it as being rich and round, which is exactly the character that this saké delivered.  A creamy texture carried flavors of melon, baked pear, and caramel, all with a pleasant acidity that kept things refreshing. Also, while the aromas and flavors suggest a sweeter style, the palate really delivered a dry, but not excessively dry product.   I was really digging this saké, and so was my husband.  It really had a lot of character and was just what I was looking for in terms of exploring saké’s fuller-bodied side.

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