Well, perhaps the subtitle here is a bit of a stretch, but there is at least a tenuous connection between this interesting output of Amabuki Shuzo and the silver-wigged artist with the soup-can obsession on the one hand and the grape that makes all those November Beaujolais nouveau parties possible on the other. Regarding the former, it is Koi Suru Banana’s label art that is evocative of the iconic banana that the late artist produced for the front cover of the Velvet Underground’s first album. As for Gamay, as many drinkers of nouveau Beau will know, the wine can sometimes present the drinker with pleasant or disconcerting (individual reactions will vary) banana notes on the nose.
Don’t expect to see any bananas floating in this nihonshu a la brandied cherries. The banana notes here come from the banana yeasts employed in its production. Banana is noticeable, particularly on the nose; it is of the green, unripe variety. This is an unpasteurized Junmai-shu—that means pure (rice, water, koji)–containing 15% alcohol with a rice-polishing rate of 60%. We found this to be predominantly sweet with some clearly discernible acidity surfacing several nanoseconds after the sweetness is perceived. It has a medium (+) finish.
At least one of us found this to be rather enjoyable, despite the fact that the drink did not pair well with what we were eating—Turkish lentil soup, doner kebab, and parmesan cheese. The dinner menu selection was our fault, of course, We suspect, though, that this sake should be appreciated sans food. Some will find this an unappealing curiosity. Others will savor its uniqueness, if only on occasion. And yet others may simply go bananas and order it often.