Created with the very authentic and precise style we have come to expect out of Niigata sakes, Imayo Tsukasa’s Black Extra Dry Junmai was one of the drier (check out its name!) and smooth beverages that I have reviewed this year. Brewed under the watchful eye of CEO Shusaku Komata, the Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery was founded in 1767, and trucks in the famously delicious water from Mt. Suganatake to complete its very unique brewing process. The 2019 Gold Award Winner of the National Kanzake Contest, the Black Extra Dry Junmai is three times drier than your average junmai and has a sharpness that is unparalleled across the sake industry.
Since the brewery only produces junmai sake, the leadership team must carefully select the type of rice and water for each sake to create a broad range of taste notes and aromas. Labeled as the “Brewer's Choice” by Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery themselves, their vision for this sake was one that was extra dry, clean and easy to pair with western cuisine. Having previously tried other Imayo Tsukasa brews, I knew I could expect a very high-end sake.
Unlike the majority of brews I write about, this particular sake can be enjoyed warmed or chilled depending on the season. We poured the liquid from the stylish black label and were immediately greeted with the “driest alcohol we’ve ever had.” Starting with a subtle hint of both umami and pepperiness, and then ending in an aroma of freshly steamed rice, it all made for a dry yet savory finish. Knowing that this specific sake was created to complement western cuisine, I opted to pair the brew with a New York strip steak and a side of mashed potatoes. The flavoring of the steak was brought alive by the clean and smooth nature of the Black Extra Dry Junmai, while the rich umami finish enhanced the quality of the mashed potatoes. It quickly became apparent that this brew was the perfect sake to pair with western cuisine thanks to its clean disposition and lack of intense flavoring. If you can handle super dry and are looking for a savory brew that cleanses the pallet, look no further than Imayo Tsukasa’s Black Extra Dry Junmai, available now on Sake Social.