Momokawa G Sake
Photo: The G Sake, “Joy,” from Momokawa, the genshu junmai ginjo.

I saved the last tasting for the big genshu. Genshu, basically undiluted sake, is different than “normal” sake (whatever that is) in that the brewer takes the ferment as far as possible without sacrificing quality. Then, the final result is not diluted with water to bring the alcohol level back down to about 16% (for example, G Sake is 18%). Genshus can reach up to 20% or so; before I opened this bottle I knew I was dealing with something that would hit me with a respectable wave of alcohol. What I didn’t know was how the balance would be struck between that higher level of alcohol and the flavors. I gave the G several tastings over a number of days because I knew it would change over a few days.

Day 1: When I first opened the bottle there was a whiff of cedar and ripe banana, a bit of grapefruit pith (yes, pith, not zest), and a bit of creamy vanilla. The color has a tinge of warmth, which makes me think they restrained themselves with the charcoal filtering. The website says “roughly filtered for creamy finish.” Is this a true muroka? They also age it for 10 months, but that doesn’t seem an extraordinary amount of time. The genshu front wave of alcohol was of course quite noticeable, but I was struck by a lack of taste coming behind the alcohol. The end of the sip was sharp with what I must now dub the sour Momokawa finish, which I see on the website they call “lingering, tropical spice finish.”

Day 2: I was happy to find there was less cedar on the nose a day after opening the bottle. I don’t mind a bit of cedar, but it can interfere with getting at the sake itself. The nose carried more banana and the palate was creamier on the back with a better finish. Much better. Still, this is a bottle to open when you know you are eating hearty and spicy food. The following days the G mellowed out a little more, but basically retained the same qualities as on day 2.

We tried it with a few different foods. It paired amazingly well with Korean spicy anchovies, Myulchi Bokkum. I know—thanks, Madam, for the overly specific food pairing. What I mean is this sake can stand up to to some serious heat and deep umami in the food and still come through as a distinctive pairing. That is how I would drink it in the future, with Korean food, with Thai coconut curries, and with American barbeque sauces. Hey, this is not a sake to sip gently while moon viewing, but I think it has a place as a foil for food.


So, that’s it, my procrastination-laden series of tastings in SakéOne’s Momokawa and Organic product lines. I didn’t taste the nigoris, but considering how hard I am on even the best Japanese nigoris, I think I’ll hold off.

Out of 5 sakes, all junmai ginjos, I found a huge variation in the brewing styles, which shows a very nice control of the process and interest in exploring the craft. Nothing I had was poor quality; if I dinged a sake, it wasn’t to my individual taste, but there was clearly something intentional being created. What would I drink again? Certainly the Momokawa Silver and Ruby were friendly drinking and were affordable enough for me to share with friends. The G is big and wouldn’t be something I’d relax with, but I can imagine enjoying it when I’m serving Sichuan, Korean, or spicy barbeque sauce.

A few notes on SakéOne:
Obviously all the sakes I tasted were junmai ginjos. I have heard that U.S. laws require brewers to only brew junmai sake (so no alcohol can be added), but where is the daiginjo? Where is a hearty non-ginjo junmai?

Thanks again to Dewey and SakéOne for the chance to taste these sakes and for responding to my posts. Dewey assures me that SakéOne continues to improve and change, so that my tastings this past spring may become obsolete. I will revisit these sakes to check in.

The SakéOne Challenge, Part 2: Momokawa Organic Ginjo and Momokawa Ruby
The SakéOne Challenge, Part 1: Momokawa Silver and Momokawa Diamond