Sparkling Sake Yuzu – Banzai Bunny (Nara, Japan)

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Rating: C+

Price: $7 USD, Uwajimaya, 7%ABV

Visual: pours cloudy lemonade yellow, no head, steady singular micro streams.

Nose: bright yuzu juice, marmalade density (10/10)-pungency

Attack: immediate soft alcohol bitterness,

Mid-palate: sustained sweet-acidity, (lvl-7) sweetness, (MAIN) sweet & tangy yuzu juice

Finish: peel and sake alcohol bitterness, light-med tart cloying finish.

Summary: drinks like a less sugary cooler, but made with natural juice rather than being artificial.

Moonstone Flavored Sake (USA)

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Moonstone Flavored Saké (Forest Grove, Oregon, USA)

  • Style: Flavored Saké
  • Where I got them : Sherbrooke (Edm), LD Richmond (only the Plum, $13)
  • How much: ~$18 (750ml) and ~$9 (375ml), Sometime in 2010

1) Asian Pear Saké, 13.5% ABV – 375ml

  • My Rating: D+

On the back label:

“Perfectly-Balanced. The heavenly fragrance of ripe yellow pears dances delicately with the melon and apple notes of fresh ginjo (rice milled to 60%) saké ” (ingredients include asian pear essence (?))

  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to saké aficionados: no

Tasting notes: hmm.. I’m starting to think I don’t like saké…no that can’t be it because I lived in Japan for 2 years and I had some pretty darn good saké paired with sashimi and sushi. So anyways, this pours clear light white wine yellow. Notes of rice wine and apple juice on the nose. Drinks with rice wine up front, 1/10-sweetnes (quite dry), then this heavy onset of aggressive alcohol – though not burning but invasive, mixed with aromas of red apple, kinda-pear-kinda-not, and a roughish alcoholic rice wine finish. This doesn’t taste very vibrant/bright/fresh/elegant. Do not like.

2) Raspberry Saké, 13.5% ABV – 750ml

  • My Rating: C-

On the back label:

“Winning you over with the rich taste of fresh ripened raspberries blending harmoniously with the smooth, flawless notes of premium sake; Moonstone Raspberry is an indulgent treat for your senses. Soft and subtly sweet, this sake conjures up memories of summer afternoons, sun-dapled berry patches and a basketful of warm, plump raspberries.” (ingredients include raspberry essence (?))

  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to saké aficionados: no, kinda strange

Tasting notes: Bottled in 2008. Pours white wine yellow, clear with no sediment. Bright rice wine “tropical” nose with detectable light alcohol and very FAINT raspberry. Drinks with that unexpected yet expected light “saltiness” that sakés have, 2/10-sweetness (on the dry side), mainly rice wine & soft alcohol, with hints of pineapple, raspberries (definitely not LUSH), and the alcohol and dryness takes over in the finish. Low compexity, low-med depth, okay carry, okay drinkability, not too amazing as a sipper. It takes awhile getting used to the subtlety of the raspberry flavour; the bottle is so awesome-looking and the anticipation is high…but alas, disappointed. Perhaps ok as a mixer.

3) Plum Saké, 7% ABV – 375ml

  • My Rating: C+

On the back label:

“Absolutely-delicious. The perfect synthesis of luscious ripe plum and creamy almond with fremium Ginjo (rice milled to 60%) saké.” (ingredients include plum essence (?))

  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to saké aficionados: no

Tasting notes: the least alcoholic of the bunch. Pours a nice clear pinkish hue. Candied japanese plum (ume) on the nose. Drinks with 7/10-sweetness (much sweeter than the pear and raspberry), medium stickiness to the palate, straightforward ume flavour, mild cloying, very light alcohol detection, mild apple & pear notes finishing slightly sugary and mild alcoholic. Not much depth but very drinkable compared to the pear and raspberry.

Hana Flavored Sake (USA)

Hana Flavored Sake – Takara Brewing (Berkeley, California, USA)

1) Fuji Apple8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C
  • Taste Profile: Apple juice -> pear/rice alcohol -> roughish ricey finish
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: no

Tasting notes: pours clear light yellow. Red apple and apple skin on the nose. Drinks with strong apple juice aroma up front, some woodiness, 5/10-sweetness, pear, medium sour backdrop, rice-alcohol off-dry, roughish ricey finish. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, decent transitions, okay carry, decent drinkability.

2) Lychee8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: B
  • Taste Profile: Lychee/apple juice -> tangy/rice wine -> semi-sweet/clean finish.
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: yes

Tasting notes: pours clear ultra-light white wine yellow. Very aromatic though somewhat artificial lychee. Drinks with the same aromatic lychee, 5/10-sweetness, filtered apple juice, light-medium tanginess, transitioning nicely into smooth rice wine, finishing semi-sweet, clean, and partially thin. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, good transitions, okay carry, very nice drinkability.

3) Plum8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C+
  • Taste Profile: Fruity red apple/plum (ume) -> alcohol/warmth -> ricey finish.
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: yes

Tasting notes: pours clear very light yellow. Fruity apple and Japanese plum on the nose. Bright fruity red apple and plum juiciness up front, mild 5/10-sweetness, transitioning into alcohol detection and light warmth, with a slight ricey finish. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, good transitions, okay carry, decent drinkability.

4) Raspberry8% ABV -750ml

  • Style: Flavored Sake
  • My Rating: C
  • Taste Profile:
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke Liquor (Edm, AB)
  • How much: $14.50 (after 10%), Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to friends: no

Tasting notes: pours clear very light yellow (as usual) with a bit of floaties. Raspberry candy on the nose with a bit of sweet sake. Drinks with 4/10-sweetness, light-watery body, a mix of light raspberry and apple flavours, light alcohol, finishing mildy sour clean. Everything is light and kinda watery, nothing awesome.