He gave me a new appreciation for koshu! I tried a 16 and a 20 year old koshu that tasted so close to a fine sherry that was remarkable. Key point made to me: europeans, men and women, who hale from a wine region in Europe find passion and common ground between the sexes on koshu than any other type of nihonshu -- according to the Asakura's experience in his bar.
I enjoyed a 40% polish daiginjo that was so unlike most any daiginjo I have had, due to the dry/earthy/mineral taste -- a delicious taste! Asakura hunts down unusual sakes and uses them to challenge perceptions about what sake is, or should be.
I also greatly enjoyed three bottle of sake brewed from Watari Bune rice -- none of them from Ibaraki! Lo and behold, watari bune rice was identified growing in other prefectures, too. It's funny how the full story behind watari bune rice isn't told, but then again, what should we expect from salespeople who care first and last about sales goals and who don't have a commitment to selling and marketing with integrity? Trusting some sake sales people is like trusting the car dealer to be honest with you about your car. Does this work for anyone anymore? Unfortunately, some people just blindly follow the so-called experts due to a lack of information or at least checks and balances.
The night ended with more yamahais, kimotos, muroka namazake genshus than are photographed here. It was a grand tour of sake, with these bottles really shining through. The only sad thing, to me, is that virtually none of the sakes i have enjoyed in Japan are available in the US. In Oregon, consumers see 300 when Japan sees 10,000. In New York, consumers fare better -- I have heard that 2,000 sakes are registered in the state of New York. Someday this will change, but only through effective and honest exportation, distribution, marketing and sale of sake outside of Japan.
I can't wait to learn more from Asakura-san, starting with dinner and a party tonight. Please visit his bar when you come to Japan. Nihonshu is his "ikigai", his great passion, and I would do well to follow his example in the earnest promotion of nihonshu -- in English and Japanese no less. What a sake stud (pictured in white below).