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What’s the big deal with ‘Nama’?

Posted by Brett Carboni on

What’s the big deal with ‘Nama’ Sake?

 Nama sake unfiltered inside the tank

A lot has been said recently about the ‘nama craze’, how’s it so good, how’s it’s so bad. So what exactly is the story?

For those who don’t know, ‘nama’ sake (or more correctly ‘nihonshu’) is sake that has not been pasteurised. There are two different stages of pasteurisation, called ‘hiire’ in Japanese but we won’t go into that right now. Needless to say that nama sake  (some would say ‘nama nama’) has not been pasteurised at any stage and has been continuously stored at around 5°C. If it is stored over that, even in a ‘wine fridge’ it will ‘turn’ in around 24-48 hours and quite frankly not be drinkable.

You see there are many lively microbes in sake when it is freshly filtered and unfortunately these little critters will multiply at an incredible rate if given the right (temperature) conditions. So it is heated to around 60°C for a short time and then quickly cooled. There are many methods and ways that this is done and each shuzo (brewery) has it’s own method. We actually witnessed one in the far north of Akita where after heating they simply brought them into the ouside on a bitumen path and let the cold Akita afternoon wind do all the work. It was amazing to see. We touched the bottles that were hot even whilst we were quite uncomfortably cold.

 Selling nama from Hourai (Watanabe shuzo) from Hida

So what’s all the fuss about?

Well, put shortly, it’s the taste.

Nama sake has an unique lively fruity taste. One sip of it and there’s a whole lot of things going on in your mouth, fruity, sometimes funky but always interesting.

If it’s so good why isn’t there more around?

Firstly, it’s more expensive because it has to be kepy cold always and the electricity to do this costs quite a bit.

Also you have to understand that most sake needs to be displayed on a shelf in a bottleshop or restaurant shelf. And they are generally not kept at 5°C. Also whilst nama is nice, you can’t drink it all the time. It’s brash and forward. A good aperitif perhaps, or just a straight drinking sake, but it can overpower the food. And it’s not a sake that you can drink steadily throughout the night.

But for a starter or just something that you like to drink, we heartily recommend it.

Here at SuperSake we have one of the biggest ranges of nama sake in Australia. Unfortunately because of the cooling requirements we are pretty much limited to selling from SuperSake’s store in Mosman Park and at the Sake festivals we hold from time to time (one coming up in November which is the outright best way to sample all of the different types) — We can’t supply our eastern states friends.

But if you live in Perth, you’re in luck. So come down and have a taste. Then you can judge for yourself.

Junmai Daiginjo namazake from Hourai

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