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(photo from an exhibition pamphlet at The Hangar)
海中熟成酒 (Kaichujukuseishu) designates sake matured in sea waters. Have you had the dream of digging out a port wine jar or sherry bottle covered by crustaceans, from an old Portuguese or British shipwreck while scuba diving near Nagasaki? Slowly evolving temperate temperatures, water pressure, as well as the movements of seawater activated by weather, tides and/or currents, create a very specific environment. Have you asked yourself what a nihonshu left a few years on the seabed would taste like? It is actually possible to find out. Kaichujukuseishu is available in Japan. Inspired by Ueno san, owner of Shusaron, a Shinagawa bar and business specializing in aged sake, a few sake breweries have over the last few years been filling a large crate with thousands of nihonshu bottles, immersed and anchored 15 meters below surface in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of the Izu Peninsula.

Amongst the kura I often refer to, have participated brands such as Daruma Masamune (Tochigi), Kidoizumi (Chiba), Izumibashi (Kanagawa), Kakurei (Niigata) …

墨流し“Suminagashi” (floating ink) is a traditional art, a process of marbling plain paper with water and ink. According to specialized sites, the art originated in China more than 2,000 years ago, and has developed in Japan since the 12thcentury. A number of different techniques are employed to create the movement, and Japanese artists have been using the energies of nature, a breath of air or the flow of water. Shingo Nakai was recently exhibiting his works at The Hangar Gallery, one of my favourite places in Naka-Meguro, not only for its great sake and shuki (sake vessels). Shingo Nakai lives with his time, and has been experiencing with sounds and noises, to produce ripples or waves.

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What is the relationship between the two concepts? Someone had to build one, and that someone is Yoshiaki Soma, owner of The Hangar, designer, tireless geek and amazing artist in fermentation matters.

There I was, visiting the exhibition, when he served the featured 2 glasses of sake, brewed by Sato san at Aramasa. The difference between them? One of the two bottles had been “aged” in a bucket of water agitated by sound waves for 2 weeks in Soma san’s bathroom (during daytime!). Not only do I love the story and Soma san’s imagination, but the sake was excellent, and my palate, hopefully not too much influenced by the story itself, was able to identify a subtle difference between the two beverages. The one “aged” in water tasted mellower and rounder, expressed more flavours … which is what people generally say about Kaichujukuseishu.

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