Easily one of the more flavorful sakes at our store, the Ozeki Karatanba “Dry Wave” Sake is an extremely unique beverage. Brewed by the Ozeki Corporation in the Hyōgo Prefecture, which was founded in 1711, the Ozeki name is derived from the Japanese word Odeki, which means good job. Unlike any other brew I have written about to date, this beverage is a honjozo, meaning the rice has been milled to 70% or less of the grain. Honjozo sakes are typically smooth with a crisp dry flavor due to it containing brewing alcohol. Awarded the Monde Selection Gold Award for the 9th year in a row, this is truly a top of the line honjozo.
The Ozeki Corporation suggests this sake be served either warmed, chilled, or at room temperature. We opted for the more traditional chilled option and my first impression of the brew was that it was noticeably dry with a crisp finish. Additionally, this sake was surprisingly soft and fluid as it went down, with varying competing flavors including maple syrup, caramel and cocoa; something I haven’t experienced in my time tasting sake. A rich and savory beast of a brew, my accomplices were noticeably surprised at how this Ozeki Karatanba drank more soft than heavy and skewed more dry than sweet (especially with its taste profile). In most cases, a sake bursting with flavor is incredibly difficult to pair with a variety of cuisines but there are two key reasons that make this honjozo the perfect sake to pair with a meal. First off, the higher polishing rate of the honjozo [70%] contributes to a lighter and more fragrant beverage-perfect for drinking throughout a meal. Secondly, the Tamba brewmasters add a tiny amount of alcohol post fermentation, which really highlight other aromas in this sake. Our tasting party opted for a spicy Chicken Tikka Masala dish and the aforementioned dry and light combination truly enhanced the tangy flavoring of the dish.
This sake is truthfully a premier honjozo, and the perfect option for anyone looking to enjoy a dry crisp beverage with a bag full of flavor.