From the Archives: A Wine Dude Takes on Premium Sake


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Wine Dude vs Sake at Umi Sake House

Well, this one was a long time in coming (insert immature delayed orgasm jokes here).

Back in 2022, during a trip to the Left Coast, Shannon, baby G and I stopped at one of my favorite non-wine Seattle haunts: Umi Sake House. No matter what happens when I’m in Seattle, I seem to (by design or good fortune) find myself grabbing sushi and a flight of sake at this venerable little downtown institution.

True to form, I ordered a flight that had at least one unfiltered/hazy sake in it, and ate my fair share of raw seafood, all while we were taking turns wrangling a rather jet-lagged but otherwise affable baby G. Also true to form, I took some notes and geeked out a bit on the sake selections in my flight. Also, also true to form, I got caught up in, well, life, and accidentally subscribed all of this fine sake stuff to the dustbins of the 1WD HQ laptop.

Today, they are freed, as I happened upon the “2022 Seattle Sake” folder on said laptop and thought, “WTF is this?!??” followed almost immediately by “Whoops!”

So I’m pausing the feature coverage I’d initially planned for this week in favor of something a bit different, and to right the wrong of forgetting about this little non-wine adventure. Thanks in advance for your indulgence as I get caught up!

Kitsukura Taruzake Barrel Aged Honjozo Sake, $32

No way I was passing this up; a rather delicate style honjozo that was aged in small handmade cedar barrels for up to six months, topped with a bit of older sake “dosage” before bottling. This is actually an older tradition in sake (which, being a wine guy, was news to me), that predates aging in steel, glass, and even ceramics. It’s on the lighter-bodied side, which contrasts elegantly with the woodsy character imparted by the barrel aging. It moves from a fruity entry into a more mellow, spicy presentation on the palate, going from fun to contemplative. Excellent stuff.

Kurosawa ‘Nigori’ Sake, $29

This unfiltered sake is basically cue-ball white, with a tantalizing aroma of ripe apricot and stone fruit on the nose. It also delivers in spades the thing I love most about this style of sake, which is the dynamic palate tension between earthy umami and creamy, rice-milk-like texture. It’s a fabulous rendition of the cloudy sake format, and a natural match for sushi on the spicier side.

Tsukinowa ‘Blue Hue’ Kinen Honjozo, $29

Hints of vanilla bean kick off the nose on this laser-focused, fresh, and classic honjozo. Melon fruit flavor mixes with rice notes on the palate, which is balanced wonderfully between mineral water clarity, alcoholic power, and savoriness.


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