Grade: Futsushu Taruzake ABV: 15.5%
Prefecture: Nara Rice: Field blend Rice polish: 70%
Serve: Warm, Room temp, or Chilled
Fresh on the palate, with a pleasant cedar flavor that brings a distinctive richness and well-balanced aromas.
The term Futsu-Shu generally translates to “ordinary” or “table” sake. Futsu-Shu does not follow a prescribed production method. It is not to say they are poor quality, only to denote good value, meant to be an everyday sake. Taruzakes are sake that has spent time aging in cedar barrels (more below). Therefore this is an everyday sake that has spent time again in cedar barrels.
A note from our Somm: This sake is piney perfection! Notes of green apple and mint mingle beautifuly with its spicy notes, cereal, and refreshing pine. I love this with smoked oysters on crostini, duck confit, and miso-glazed fish. Try is chilled in a white wine glass, or warmed in an ochoko (sake cup). - Shelley
About the brewery: Once upon a time, centuries ago, all sake was stored and transported in cedar barrels called taru, namely because stainless steel tanks and modern bottling technology had not yet been invented. It was easy to store the sake in a barrel, where one could walk to the local izakaya and fill up their masu cup or wineskin. Also, before modern brewing techniques, sake often had a very rough taste, and aging in cedar barrels helped mask some of the harsh edges. Many have seen these cedar barrels displayed at Shinto shrines, or placed at American restaurants. Indeed, the taru barrel still holds cultural significance, but improving technologies and brewing techniques have rendered them obsolete on a large scale. Sake that spends time aging in taru is called taruzake.
In 1964, Choryo Shuzo was the first sake brewery to bring back taru aged sake for sale to the general public. This time, they age the sake in taru before bottling it in modern fashion. This was the first time people could taste the delicious woodsy profile of taruzake without having to actually crack open an entire barrel themselves. Today, taruzake in barrel is donated to Shinto shrines, or used for special occasions, while bottled taruzake is enjoyed at will.
Choryo Shuzo exclusively uses Yoshinosugi (Japanese-cedar) from barrel makers at the foot of Mt. Nara. There are only five Japanese barrel makers left in the country. The barrels must be made by hand, from trees at least 80 years old, and require an aging period of one year to drain all the excess water and create a beautiful color. Taru barrels are never charred like wine barrels and are used up to three times by sake breweries. Taruzake ages in barrel for only about three weeks. It has a very distinct cedar aroma and taste.