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D.C.'s Grand Sake Tasting Event: A Night of Fancy Booze and Great Conversations

USA | Sunday, 20 April 2014 | Views [1246]

© Hakkaisan (sadly I didn't have a camera)

© Hakkaisan (sadly I didn't have a camera)

April hit me like a brick of rocks and started off quite shaky. Because of that I haven’t been in the best of moods so when I was offered a spot to volunteer at the annual Taste of Japan Grand Sake Tasting event (part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival) in early April I jumped at the opportunity. Looking back I can say it is without a doubt one of my favorite memories of living in Washington D.C.!

I got there early to sort out where I would be helping out. With a bit of shuffling about I was given an amazing opportunity to work with a lovely gentleman at Kamotsuru Sake from Hiroshima, Japan.  He had limited English and I had some limited Japanese language skills so between the two of us we managed to have a wonderful night working side by side and playing off each other’s strengths. I don’t know much about sake so it was a definite learning experience for me.

One of the best parts of the night was when I was given the opportunity to steal away for fifteen minutes to try other sakes at the event and let me tell you they all were just amazing! I have never had sake that good before – and I probably never will again as all of the sakes I tried that night are in the top 1% of those produced in Japan. Wow. I admit, I’ve always felt like the sakes that I’ve tasted before  had a strong back-taste that was less-than-exciting for me but every single sake I had a chance to sample was incredibly smooth with balanced notes ranging from grassy to fruity to just simply clean. They all went down a treat!

The Kamotsuru sake was a big favorite of mine from the get go though I’m sure part of that was because I was working with that vendor all night and helped explained each of the three sakes to anyone who stopped by. I quite liked the Tokusei GOLD Junmai Daiginjo, which had cute little sakura-stamped gold leaf floating around inside the vase-shaped bottle. It is apparently the first Daiginjo sake ever produced in the entire history of sake making in Japan which doesn’t seem so surprising considering Kamotsuru sake was founded in 1623.

I was sad to miss out on some of the other sakes which got cleaned out completely before I could finally break away from work to stop by at the end of the night – Hakkaisan’s sparkling sake comes to mind – but I still had an amazing time and was thrilled to try Born’s “Dreams Comes True” Junmai Daiginjo, which is famously known as the sake gift from the Prime Minister of Japan, Shizo Abe, to President Obama.

The event was held at the Carnegie Library and there were around 20 vendor tables with sake along with a beer booth, a few food stands, and some taiko drumming to keep the heart pounding if the alcohol wasn’t doing it enough. Tickets were $100 for general admin or $150 for VIP. If you have the cash flow for this I would highly, highly recommend it. I had a wonderful, wonderful time and this memory will remain as one of the best nights I’ve had in DC in a very long time.

Bottoms up and kanpai!

Tags: alcohol, culture, japan, sake, shochu, washington d.c.



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