We had the good fortune of trying four different types of kijoshu recently:
- Hanatomoe Mizumoto x Mizumoto （花巴 水酛x水酛）
- Senkin Organic Nature 2021: Kijoshu (仙禽 オーガニックナチュール貴醸酒)
- Aizu Miyaizumi Kijoshu （會津宮泉 貴醸酒）
- Kokuryu Kijoshu （黒龍 貴醸酒）
Kijoshu is a relatively new type of sake developed in 1973, but it actually has its roots in a type of sake brewed during the Heian period (794 to 1185). According to Kurand, the desire was to develop a sake that was rich enough to compete with the best wines at state dinners. The difference in the production of kijoshu and other types of sake is that in the moromi or fermentation phase, rather than the usual trifecta of steamed rice, rice koji and water, the water is replaced with sake during the final stage. The yeast is weakened by the added sake, resulting in much more residual sugar than with other types of sake. So, with kijoshu, we should expect much sweeter and richer sake.
So, after trying the four types of sake above, what did we find?
(We have rated each sake from 1 to 5 stars, 5 being the highest.)
- Hanatomoe Mizumoto x Mizumoto （花巴水酛x水酛） ★★★★★
- Senkin Organic Nature 2021: Kijoshu (仙禽オーガニックナチュール貴醸酒) ★★★★★
Both Hanatomoe and Senkin were opulent with significant legs due to the sugar content. Both use natural, or wild, yeast. The aroma was of flowers and honey. Although the sweetness is the most dominant flavor, there are also significant acidity and umami. It is reminiscent of a Sauternes or a late-harvest Riesling. A great pairing would be Stilton or some other sharp cheese or even cheese cake.
- Aizu Miyaizumi Kijoshu （會津宮泉貴醸酒） ★★★★★
The clerk at the sake shop where we bought this sake described this as being more “smart” or svelte than Senkin. It truly was. The residual sugar was significantly less, but the aromas of flowers and honey were still present. We felt that this was a very versatile sake that pairs well with all kinds of food.
- Kokuryu Kijoshu （黒龍貴醸酒）★
This one was a low-alcohol offering (ABV 12%). Although similar to Hanatomoe and Senkin in terms of sweetness, it did not have the same level of complexity as either one of them. The aroma was very faint, almost non-existent. This one was truly underwhelming.
If you haven’t done so already, we recommend you give kijoshu a try.
For more information, you can check out an article on Kurand (in Japanese):