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5 to Try: An Introduction to Sake

When the pandemic pushed her plans to open Boston’s first sake-specific bar to this winter, Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale launched The Koji Club. Her site offers a subscription box, virtual tastings, and educational blog posts. DiPasquale, an advanced sake professional, continues to spread the word about this delicious and diverse category of drinks. And for those looking for an introduction to sake, she recommends these five easy-drinking bottles. “These sakes range in categories and styles,” says DiPasquale. “But they’re certifiably crushable by The Koji Club’s standards of drinking well and having fun.”

Fukucho “Seaside” Junmai Sparkling Sake Miho Imada is one of only a few female toji (sake brewmasters) in Japan. And her Fukucho line of sakes for Imada Shuzō has earned global acclaim. “Imada uses a little white koji in this sake, resulting in bright, bold citrus notes that pay homage to the citrus farms that line the coast of her hometown of Hiroshima,” says DiPasquale. “Crisp and refreshing with lemon, lime, Honeycrisp apple notes and a soft, frothy finish, this sake is your French 75 replacement. It has great intentions and a good story to match.” $35/500 ml, tippsysake.com

Kubota Anniversary Junmai Daiginjo “The region of Niigata is known for its stunning water source from the Japanese Alps. The region sees an average of seven feet of snow each winter, which provides crystal clear water for sake production. [That] translates through fermentation as pristine, gorgeous sake,” explains DiPasquale. Historic brewery Asahi Shuzo uses the water to make their acclaimed sakes, such as the Kubota line. “The brewery created this anniversary bottling to give folks a chance to try their luxurious sake at an approachable price point,” says DiPasquale. “It’s so popular that they continue to produce it.” $48/720 ml, takasan.co

Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Ginjo Genshu “Bushido was one of the first sakes in America to be served out of kegs,” notes DiPasquale. This Ginjo sake is made by the Kizakura brewery in Kyoto. “Committed to the freshness of the product, they also sell this delicious Ginjo in [single-serving] cans for your on-the-go pleasure,” says DiPasquale. “It has notes of tart raspberry and ripe, juicy pears. We love to bring this chilled (as cold as we can get it) with us to the beach. If it gets too warm in your beach bag, pour it over a Richie’s Italian ice.” $30/5-pack of 188 ml cans, drinkbushido.com

Heiwa Shuzo “KID” Junmai Cup This easy-drinking Junmai sake from Heiwa Shuzo in Wakayama is enjoyable at any serving temperature. “When chilled, it tastes like soft white peaches. And when warmed, it tastes like coconut and lemon. The acidity is a perfect complement to fatty foods. But we truly enjoy this one on its own just as much,” says DiPasquale. “It’s available in large bottles, but the cup design is so beautiful that we always keep them stocked in our fridge.” $8.99/180 ml, 305wines.com

Miyakobijin Yoigokochi Yuzu Sake “Miyakobijin Yoigokochi Yuzu Sake is like drinking sunshine,” says DiPasquale of this slow-fermented sake brewed with yuzu juice. “It’s a little floral (lilacs, orange blossoms), plus a smidge herbal, like an overgrown summer garden on the nose. On the tongue, this beauty resembles its distant citrus cousins (tangerine, bitter lime) but expresses distinct and exemplary yuzu flavor with subtle woodsy notes (pine, fresh cedar), herbaceous tones (lemon balm, hyssop, elderflower), and a faint hint of creamy Calpico that can be found in both the texture and finish.” $37.99/720 ml, thenaturalwineshoppe.com

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