Rare, one-of-a-kind, distinctive, pick your superlative about how special this bottle is. Vintage dated sake is rather uncommon. Moreover, finding a bottle of 2005 is almost unheard of. Terada Honke's Kaikoshu began life as kimoto namazake, brewed slowly for elevated acidity and depth, then left unpasteurized to preserve its true, naked character. It was then aged in bottle at the brewery for 15 years before release, giving it time to grow from what was likely a fresh, wild sake into something heady and complex. It is best to approach Kaikoshu as though it were a finely aged spirit, like Cognac or Scotch, rather than something to drink in one sitting. Store in a cool, dark place after opening and it will keep perfectly fine for some time.
The color is dark amber, like good maple syrup. The nose is a well of umami: shiitake, konbu, moromi miso. The mouthfeel is soft and luxurious, with sweeter notes of dark chocolate, burnt sugar, chestnuts, and a verdant, mossy earthiness. Sip this at room temperature or slightly chilled at the end of a meal, maybe alongside a slice of dark chocolate torte or flan. If you prefer a savory pairing, grilled unagi would do nicely.
Junmai Kimoto Muroka Namagenshu Koshu
About the producer
Terada Honke is either Japan’s most iconoclastic sake brewery or its most traditional. Under the direction Keisuke Terada and his son-in-law, Masaru, the brewery has vertically integrated to control every element of production. They grow their own organic rice, cultivate their own koji, and do by hand what most of their peers have mechanized. They rely on ambient yeasts for fermentation rather than ubiquitous lab-created ones, and they never dilute, fine, or pasteurize their sake. Their approach is nearly identical to how farmer-brewers worked hundreds of years ago and the resultant sakes are natural, wild, and literally foundational. Terada Honke's sakes drink well at a variety of temperatures and continue to evolve after opening, even days later if kept in the fridge.