Filed Under: Rice wine, from the Land of the Rising Lone Star.
Overview: Two premium junmai sakés: a Tokubetsu edition and a Nigori, fermented with care using organic rice harvested from the same line of Texas rice seeds sewn in 1904 by Japanese Baron Matsudaira, and produced and bottled by the only Saké maker east of the U.S. Rocky Mountains
Appreciate: The attendant firsts to being a true pioneer brand. Sakés by Texas Saké Co. are the first ever made from Texas rice (organic or otherwise); the first organic-only saké kura (brewhouse/storehouse) in North America; and the first independently owned saké producer in North America. Another likely first, of sorts: That Texans unfamiliar with the unique Japanese-style fermented beverage known as saké will be initiated via Texas Saké Co, and happy for the introduction. Texans and non-Texans alike can thank founder and owner Yoed Anis for their new favorite rice wine; he was inspired to bring saké to Texas, and Texas to saké, following a sojourn in Japan years ago. Japanese entrepreneurs, take note: sojourn to Texas, and in a couple of years you and all of Osaka can be knee deep in jalapeño peach preserves
Know: Texas Saké Co. offers two varieties of junmai saké, labeled as the Whooping Crane Tokubetsu Junmai, and Rising Star Nigori Junmai. A brief anatomy of relevant terms is useful in understanding the features of these two products: "junmai" is a premium grade saké designating that the ingredients are purely limited to rice, water, and koji, which is a mold (aspergillus oryzae) needed in the fermenting process to create sugars out of starch, which in turn fuels the yeast cells. Bottom line, junmai is synonymous with purity; and both Texas Saké labels earn the designation. From there, the two products diverge. The Whooping Crane Tokubetsu (shown above, right) is a clear variety, described as having notes of apple and pear, and as well-matched with seafood. "Tokubetsu" means special, and is a term of art among sakés indicating an objectively distinctive quality; in the case of the Whooping Crane, the distinction is the Texas-sourced rice, itself. The Rising Star Nigori Junmai (shown above, left) is cloudy, like newly fizzed alka seltzer, sans the fizz. "Nigori" denotes unfiltered or coarsely filtered rice, which makes the saké unclear, and creates a great flavor for pairing with spicier foods
Special Comments: Texas Saké bottles are labeled by hand, and identify the date its contents were brewed. These products are slowly appearing in retailers and restaurants around Texas; they can't ship outside of Texas direct from Texas Saké, but if you're outside Texas, keep an eye out for them online at Sake Social
Cost: $35 for 720mL; $22 for 375mL
See them: Here.