Sannohe-no-Donberi (三戸のドンベリ)

Winter

When icicles hang by the wall
   And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall
   And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                        Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow
   And coughing drowns the parson’s saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
   And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                        Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

#drinkingjapan #drinkjapan #Japanesesake #hachinoheshurui #sannohenodonberi #nigorizake #aomori

We thought we would start with a little William Shakespeare this week, specifically the above excerpt from Love Labour’s Lost, because the observations made in “Winter” are in harmony with one that we will make about the beverage under review this week. Shakespeare, or, as the late Lord Buckley would have it, “Willie the Shake,” while bemoaning the unpleasantries of the season—the sullen birds, chilblain, and all-around foulness—nevertheless, appreciates the few aspects of the season that are enjoyable—the prospect of consuming the cooking crab apples and the anticipation of learning what the well-oiled Joan is cooking up, the few happy notes wafting through the bleak landscape.

Nigorizake is a cloudy nihon-shu that is closely associated with that foulest of seasons, winter. To us, it is Shakespeare’s hissing crabs and Joan’s culinary surprise. We sing a merry note whenever we see it. Sannohe-no-Donberi (三戸のドンベリ), Hachinohe Shurui, produces this wonderful beverage that has a cotton-candy aroma with hints of vanilla milkshake. This is a nigorizake that is definitely more on the sweet side than the dry. It is a junmaishu with a pleasing taste, to be sure, but the most impressive aspect of Sannohe-no-Donberi is the tactile experience, which comes close to what a person encounters when drinking heavy cream, which one of us here does on occasion. It comes in at 15% abv. The seimaibuai is 65%.

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