The cherry blossom season has come and gone. We have already enjoyed the perfect sake (at least visually) for the season, the one that uses a special red yeast or sekishokukobo (赤色酵母). Please see here for more details.
There is another sake that is closely associated with cherry blossoms, i.e., sake made with sakura flower yeast.
Sekizen Junmai Ginjo Sakura-no-hana-kobo (積善 純米吟醸 桜の花酵母) is a junmai sake, i.e., sake with no added brewer’s alcohol, made with hitogogochi (ひとごごち) rice and yeast from the sakura flower. Hitogogochi rice was cultivated in the late 1980s by the Nagano Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station and trial sake brewing using this rice began in the late 1990s. Please see here for more information. Now it is a major sake rice due to its large white core, or shinpaku (心拍), which makes it easy to dissolves into moromi mash. It also withstands the cold weather of Nagano Prefecture well.
The brewery specializes in sake made from various flower yeasts, including vine rose and sunflower and is a member of the “Tokyo Agricultural University Flower Yeast Study Group.” In a world where yeasts are often artificially altered to create mutant strains with specific brewing capabilities, this study group focuses on the natural world of flowers. Unlike the approach taken with standard sake yeast, which is isolated from moromi mash, the laboratory hopes to isolate yeast with unique capabilities and flavors that derive from flowers. Please see here for more details.
The sakura yeast did not impart strong floral aromas or flavors in the sake we tasted.
When the bottle was first opened, it tasted rather dry and light without strong flavors. However, after a few days it became rich and silky, almost milky in flavor. There is a pleasant and marked acidity to it. In terms of sweetness, it is well balanced.
This sake is very versatile and should go very well with all sorts of foods.