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Sake Reviews

Kikusui Perfect Snow Nigori, 21% ABV | 菊水パーフェクト スノーにごり酒


Kikusui's Perfect Snow Nigori is not only an homage to the brewery's snowy home of the Niigata Prefecture, but is also a great and accessible place to start our journey into the Nigori category.

Nigori is a coarsely filtered type of Sake where a good amount of the Sake's moromi or fermented rice is left to be bottled along with the Sake's alcohol - this gives the appearance of a cloudy, milky drink. Because the cloudiness comes from leftover rice granules that are polished down leaving the rice's core, called the shinpaku, where it's more starchy and sweet as opposed to the outer parts of the rice nearer to the husk where it's more nutty, Nigori's therefore naturally tend to be sweeter and more full-bodied. 

I find that Nigori's should really be a key part of anyone's introduction to Sakes because they tend to be more palate friendly and easy to drink given the sweetness. And while some might scoff at Nigori's being a Sake beginner's drink - that couldn't be further from the truth! Recently Nigori's have become a rather key focal point for breweries to lend themselves to those new to Sake.


The rice mash.


And while that might sound like I'm completely contradicting myself from earlier, this also does mean that there's alot of experimentation going on with Nigori's as opposed to more classic Junmai's and Daiginjo's which tend to be more rigid as a style (as breweries tend to believe that those are the brews they'll be defined by). This means that we're seeing fruited Nigori's and also a return to Nigori's own predecessor, the completely unfiltered Doburoku (the entire chunk of moromi is left bottled!), which was for close to a century illegal.

Here Kikusui likens the moromi to the powdery snows of Niigata. This one's very easy to find in most places that sell Sake and also at a very wallet friendly price - which is why it's Japan's No. 1 selling Nigori!

Let's give it a go!

Kikusui Perfect Snow Nigori, 21% ABV | 菊水パーフェクト スノーにごり酒 - Review

Tasting Notes

Color: Cloudy White, Calpis

Aroma: Heavy scents of yogurt - lightly tart and lactic. Definitely milky aromas as well - think unpasteurised milk or cream. 

Taste: Really smooth and creamy with a brighter, velvety sweetness - lush and flavourful, almost confectionary and of cream sponge cake and sweet rice pudding. It continues to keep with undertones of lactic milky notes of unpasteurised milk. It’s also punchier here, with more of a distinct but light peppery kick. 

Finish: It gets warmer here, fading into a delicate sweetness of cream and lightly sweet yogurt. Also reminiscent of sticky rice with condensed milk.


My Thoughts

This is definitely your go-to starter nigori - it’s very easy to get into and has easy to love flavours of sweet rice, cream sponge cake, rice pudding and sticky rice with condensed milk. 

Admittedly you’ll have to get past the aromas which can be alittle bit stark - it is quite rustic and farm-y of unpasteurised milk or cream, but once you get to the palate it really opens up into a much more enticing flavour of bright, sweet rice flavours that is really flavourful and forward. This carries on to the finish and fades out into a delicate starchy sweetness.

Nigori’s typically carry with them a slightly more lactic aroma because of the rice mash left in the sake, and so you can’t run too far from those notes. However, the Perfect Snow Nigori does more than make up for it on the palate with those wonderful lush and sweet flavours.

Definitely a go-to Nigori that’s easily available and quite bang for buck - it’s one you can’t really get sick of and you can see why it’s quite the staple. 

This would go well with something like unagi or grilled eel.