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Sake Reviews

Sogen “Noto no Kuni” Yamadanishiki | 宗玄 能登乃国 純米酒


Nestled away in the coastal tip of Japan's Ishikawa Prefecture, known for its natural produce of seafood and beef, the idyllic natural scenery, being kept rather historically preserved as one would say with temples and shrines abound - maybe more recently popular for the teamLab installation at Kanazawa Castle, is also the Noto Peninsula which is historically important to Sake makers.

It is home to the Noto Toji Guild, which at its peak was one of the four major Toji guilds in the country, supplying sake breweries with the keyman needed to guide the sake-making process each winter. It is a guild that is well-regarded and has defined a powerful style of sake that is flavour forward, and crafted to pair with the Prefecture's umami-rich cuisine and history of salt production.


teamLab's exhibition at the Kanazawa Castle in Ishikawa has stirred great interest in the otherwise laidback and idyllic area.


The guild itself originates from the Sogen Brewery, which was founded by the Hatakeyama Samurai Clan in the mid 1700s, and while that might seem like a distant past, its ties to the Japanese royal family remain strong - the Japanese Crown Prince even made a personal visit to the 11th-generation-running sake brewery in 2018! 

Given its heritage, it's no surprise the brewery's current Toji, Yukio Sakaguchi, had spent 60 years honing his craft, having trained under the Noto Toji Guild's chief brewer, before himself being promoted to chief brewer for Sogen in 1997. Amidst the realm of Toji's, Sakaguchi has a rather big influence and presence - again no surprise given the brewery's strong legacy.


The Sogen Brewery.


The brewery's emblem is a distinctive speartip that's actually called a "yari" that was what samurai warriors traditionally used for fighting on horseback.

With that quick brief done, let's take a look at what we're having today - the Sogen "Noto no Kuni" Yamadanishiki. This is a Junmai grade sake that makes use of Yamadanishiki rice from Hyogo's Special Grade A region, that is then polished to 65%.

Let's give it a go!

Sogen “Noto no Kuni” Yamadanishiki | 宗玄 能登乃国 純米酒 - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Light Tint

Aroma: Bright, cohesive elegant scents of fresh, ripened honeydew, alongside a light creamy, milky sweetness.

Taste: It’s lighter bodied and clean here, with an immediate acidity that’s really refreshing. There’s more on fresh florals of elderflower, supported by a light honeyed sweetness. Bright acidity and solid roundedness.

Finish: A hit of black pepper, alittle more dry here, fading out with a gentle receding of the floral and sweet notes.


My Thoughts

This had a really nice elegant aromas - bright and fresh yet creamy. But it’s really on the palate where it shines most with this really refreshing acidity that perked me right up - it’s really a grab-your-attention sort of profile, that’s well composed with florals and a delicate sweetness, whilst remaining rounded and silky. The finish was also pretty enjoyable with a gentle receding of these floral and sweet notes.

Very enjoyable Sake that’s got great points all around, solid evolution from the nose to the palate and finish, each with displays of elegance and nuance.


My Rating: 9/10


Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.