The Seesaw in the Sake: Keigetsu CEL 24 Junmai Daiginjo 50 (桂月 CEL24 純米大吟醸 50)

A number of years ago the humble seesaw found itself under attack in the United States. This simple device that has provided so much enjoyment for millions of children was, along with other equipment like monkey bars, being yanked from playgrounds. The war on play apparently had less to do with the nanny state than with the litigious state, according to John Tierney.  “The old tall jungle gyms and slides disappeared from most American playgrounds across the country in recent decades because of parental concerns, federal guidelines, new safety standards set by manufacturers and — the most frequently cited factor — fear of lawsuits.”* Fortunately, seesaw is safe in the realm of metaphor, where it can be quite useful, as in this review.

Keigetsu CEL 24 Junmai Daiginjo 50 (桂月 CEL24 純米大吟醸 50) is a junmai daiginjo from the Tosa district of Kochi Prefecture, which is located on Japan’s fourth main island Shikoku. The rice is Gin-no-yume (吟の夢) sourced solely from Kochi, which should make the terroirists happy. If you are shocked or confused by the previous sentence, please read the italicized word again. The brewers make use of a special yeast, CEL 24, which is also native to Kochi and apparently plays a critical role in the flavor profile, which can be described as follows: slightly floral on the nose, light body, and 15% abv. Well, there is nothing exceptional here, but wait a minute, this is where the seesaw comes in. We have done a lot of tasting over the years but have never encountered anything quite like this. There is a wonderful balance of acidity and sweetness, but in the first few seconds after the sake hits the palate, this does not manifest itself as integration. Instead, the drinker perceives one element in ascent then gradually diminishing as the other element rises to predominance. In other words, the perception of acidity rises and then falls as the perception of sweetness rises—in short, the seesaw in the sake. The integration of the two opposing elements comes in the long finish.

*Tierney, J. “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?,” The New York Times, July 18, 2011.

Recommendation level (out of five stars):


We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon.

#drinkingjapan #drinkjapan #sake #nihonshu #junmaidaiginjo #ginnoyume #cel24 #faryeast #kochisake #tosasake #keigetsu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s