ABOUT THIS BOTTLE
Asahi Shuzo "Tsugu"
This is NOT an every day sake. This is a super special-occasion sake. Sure, the price point may have you thinking that. But when you consider what they went through for every single step of the brewing process, you get it. Let's take the rice polishing process. They experimented for two years to find a way to polish the rice that would leave as much of the center of the rice while taking out as much of the outer protein. The resulting polishing method takes them twice the usual time—a jaw-dropping 102 hours—and this is just the start of the brewing process. Let's talk about the yeast. They spent two years and went through 4000 different yeasts until they happen to fall upon five little yeast cells that had gone through the perfect natural mutation to bring out the exact aroma they were striving for. Or take the pressing process. Today, with a variety of sake breweries all over the country, it's generally thought that brewing techniques have been exhausted and any progress in the field is considered unlikely. In actuality, there's a lot that is still a mystery, especially the last finishing steps that include pressing, heating, and cooling the sake. At Asahi Shuzo, the three in charge of these last steps worked in tandem to see if there was any room for improvement. What they came upon was to use only the lightest, gentlest pressure, only a fifth of the pressure used in a normal press, to press the sake out of the white lees. They discard the first and last bit of the pressing, rapidly heat the remaining fresh sake to 149°F, bottle it, and then cool it down by hand to 35.6°F by plunging it in ice water. The idea was to keep the time that it was above 86°F to under 10 minutes in order to capture and keep alive the fresh sake's aromas and flavors. The result was sake so markedly superior that every person who tasted it could clearly taste the difference. But let's talk about those flavors. What's so amazing about the taste of this sake? Like many things spectacular in this world, it feels almost silly/sacrilegious/futile to try to describe it in words. Asahi's R&D head Hiroyasu Tamura says they wanted to go beyond the Tanrei-karakuchi (crisp and dry) flavor that made Asahi Shuzo so famous; they strove for something even cleaner, even lighter. A sake that goes down so lightly and easily and leaves no trace, yet makes you wanting more; each sip a discovery of a new sweetness, a surprise tartness, a hidden depth. This sake is the culminating expression of the brewery's technique, craft, philosophy, heart, and soul.