Today February 4th the Japan Prestigious Sake Association puts out the Risshun Asashibori sake. This year 43 breweries across Japan participated in the release of sake. Starting at midnight on February 4th the sake is pressed, bottled, blessed by a Shinto priest, picked up by the liquor stores selling it and sold. Also, for those of you that don’t know Risshun is considered the start of Spring on the Chinese traditional calendar. So, this sake is released on February 4th to celebrate that.
This is as fresh of sake you can get anywhere. I live in Iwakuni and Gokyo (Sakai Shuzo) has been participating since I moved here in 2021. I have had it the past 3 years and I love the tradition. It is a good way to start looking forward to Spring which is usually very beautiful in Japan.
This year is a little special for me. I did save a bottle of last year’s release just so I could compare it to this year’s release.
Here is how it went:
The 2023 release has a strong fruity nose (which makes sense since it is a Junami Ginjo Nama Genshu.) The color was slightly yellow. The taste was also fruity.
The 2024 release barely had a nose on it. The was a small hint of something but it was nowhere as pronounced as the 2023. The color was slightly yellow just like the 2023. There was no real difference in color between the two sakes. The 2024 also had a fruity taste, but also a little bit of a bite to it. This is probably due to the fact it had no time to age.
Overall, both sakes were outstanding and aging it a year did smooth it out and give it more of a nose but the 2023 still tasted as fresh to me.
If you are in Japan currently pop into a sake shop and see if you can find a bottle from any of the 43 participating breweries.
More information on the Risshun Asasihibori project can be found at the Japan Prestigous Sake Association.