By: Maren Swanson
When I try something I don't like, my mind usually stays set. Listen, I am VERY open-minded. I will try almost everything once, but like Head & Shoulders says, "you never have a second chance to make a first impression." This is how I used to feel about Nigori Sake - until last week.
I hit up my local Gelson's the other day for wine and then had a sudden urge to switch it up. I drink wine all of the time and suddenly, my palette was crying out for something new. Beer, bourbon, vodka? No. Been there, done that. So, I decided to focus on sake and of course, the sakes on sale caught my eye. I glanced at the small batch of options on the shelf and kept returning to the same bottle: Sayuri.
Sayuri translates to "little lily." The bottle is frosted pink and splashed with flowers - so feminine in its design. And where had a heard that name before? Oh, right - everyone at the sushi joint I worked at asked me if we carried it and it was the name of one the geishas in Memoirs of a Geisha (I'm a big fan of the book and the movie). In a way, part of me felt obligated to buy it for all of these reasons.
Once I had brought my bottle home, I made sure it was extra cold before I tried it, and then I started reminiscing about my previous Nigori experiences. Nigori is usually referred to as "unfiltered" or "cloudy" sake and it tends to taste sweeter than most hot or cold sake on the market. Nigori is growing in popularity right now and many sake companies are even starting to make some of them fruit-flavored (strawberry, yuzu). It's texture and color used to throw me off (milky - catch my drift?), and I don't like my beverages too sweet so, I steered clear of it for a while - no pun intended.
Now to actually tasting the Sayuri! It wasn't love at first sip, but probably because my brain was a little confused - sort of like that time I kept taking my ex back. ANYWAY…I tried it again. And then again. The flavors weren't as sweet at the Ozeki Nigori (sold at almost every Japanese restaurant) I had tried before and the Sayuri Nigori sake had a unique texture with a fairly smooth finish. The sake also had a subtle dry feel to it with some light fruit tones. Event hough I wasn't completely sold on the Sayuri that moment, I ended going back to Gelson's the next evening for another bottle. Nuff said.
According to Hakutsuru's (Sayuri's Sake Brewing Co) website, Sayori is actually coarsely filtered and I discovered that it is gluten free too. Once you open the bottle, it should stay drinkable for up to 3 months in the refrigerator. If you are planning on purchasing a bottle or Sayuri or any Nigori sake for that matter, always shake the bottle before pouring so that the rice sediment at the bottle can disperse evenly and make it cloudy. If you usually play it safe as a sake drinker, I recommend stepping out of your safe zone and giving this Nigori a chance. Kanpai!