International Virtual Tasting: Hana No Mai Brewery

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Like-minded Japanese sake lovers and tasters decided to compare two brews produced by Hana No Mai Brewery, Shizuoka Prefecture, Hamamatsu City (formerly Hamakita City) and compare them for their taste and characteristics.

Please check for comparison notes published by Melinda, andEtsuko in Tokyo and Valerie, Timothy and Eric & Hiroko in the U.S!

Name: Hana No Mai Ginjo
Brewery: Hana No Mai Brewery Co., Ltd.
Grade: Ginjo
Prefecture: Shizuoka // Overall Rating: 7
ALC: 15.5 // 4 Fragrant
SMV: +5 // 6 dry
Acidity: 1.2 // Simple 2
Seimaibuai (milling %): 55% // quick finish 2

Aroma/fragrance: light cherries/Ricey
Clarity: very clear
Colour: faint amber
Body: light
Taste: good, dry, discret. Cherries, soft faint vanilla
Aftertaste:dry, tends to disappear quickly.

Overall: dry, light drunk best at room temperature or lukewarm.
Brewmaster Kazuhito Tsuchida explained to me that this sake was especially designed for beginners and young people.

Name: Hana No Mai Junamai Dai Ginjo
Brewery: Hana No Mai Brewery Co., Ltd.
Grade: Junamai Dai Ginjo
Prefecture: Shizuoka // Overall Rating: 8.5
ALC: 15.5 // 4 Fragrant
SMV: +4 // 4 dry/sweet
Acidity: 1.3 // Complex 5
Seimaibuai (milling %): 5o% // Lingering 6

Aroma/fragrance: light, flowers
Clarity: very clear
Colour: transparent
Body: light
Taste: gentle on the palate, soft, petillant, apricot, white peach, nectarine, gardenias
Aftertaste: petillant lingering into citrus fruits

Overall: dry, light, absorbing. Best drunk at room temperature

12 Responses to “International Virtual Tasting: Hana No Mai Brewery”

  1. Melinda Says:

    Yes!! I agree that the Daiginjo should be drunk closer to room temp! It’s way too remote just out of the fridge.

    So, what’s the verdict with regard to preference? Did you taste alone or with others? Tell all!

  2. dragonlife Says:

    Well, once again, I found myself alone fending with all the tasting, noting and writing as the only knowledgeable people I know of are few and very far between down there (that is unless I wish to start some unwanted internecine struggles) and had to limit myself to Hana No mai in the light that I tasted no less than a dozen sake in the last two weeks and am still writing about them. Not mentioning that my better (worse?) half pointed out that I was putting on weight again and that she would not mind my sharing her taste for wine from time to time.
    The Daiginjo was pleasant enough, but as Brewmaster Tsuchida said, it is aimed at beginners and I do understand that for that reason it would not stand the comparison with a more “adult” brew.
    I enjoyed both of them, but tended to guzzle them down more quickly than usual.
    Moreover, Hana No Mai produces a lot of private brands (they called me today to tell me they are sending me the whole list by mail!) and my impression is that they have developped a following for that particular type of sake in their own region (accounting almost 1,000,000 souls), especially among young women.
    I’ll tell you what: if you guys are ready to come down and pay your fare to Shizuoka City, I will organize a full sake tasting session for you at my expenses with the local saketen!
    Cheers and all that!

  3. Etsuko Says:

    So, according to Tsuchida-san’s design, I wonder our group qualify for “young” people or just stay in the beginners category? I was pleasantly surprised how Ginjo changed its profile and matched with strong flavors.

    Hey, I might take you up on your offer and stop at Shizuoka on the way back from Hamamatsu next time. Or, how about matching unagi from Hamamatsu with Shizuoka sake tasting.

  4. dragonlife Says:

    Beginners? I wonder! LOL
    As for my offer, if you want Hamamatsu unagi as well we shall have to do it on a Friday evening 6 to 10 after University class.
    Otherwise, in Shizuoka Friday or Saturday evenings are fine.
    If you stay over Saturday night, you can come and watch cricket and have a beer with the lads! If there is no cricket, then there are plenty of places to visit!

  5. Etsuko Says:

    I am going to figure out when I am going home. Probably I will try to arrive Saturday or Sunday when it does not interfere with your cricket. I have to go to go to Hamamatsu first and get Unagi.

  6. Melinda Says:

    Oh, you’re making me jealous. Unagi and Shizuoka sake…yum yum.

    My friends and I are still planning a Shizuoka golf/sake trip, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

    Perhaps I, too, qualify as a “beginner” because the Daigin appealed to me. But, still, it’s not your typical hanayaka Daiginjo, is it? It has a fairly restrained bouquet and subtle, fleeting flavor.

  7. dragonlife Says:

    If you plan a Shizuoka/sake trip, I would like you to suggest you to have the sake tasting in Shizuoka City on Saturday night (I will organise it) and the golf bashing on Sunday!

  8. Timothy Says:

    Now I’m really Jealous! I want a Shizuoka sake trip! saving saving my pennies… learning my japanese verbs…..

    I had left over Hana No Mai Junamai Dai Ginjo and I agree as well, it was more open closer to room temp. I enjoyed the taste more after it mellowed for a few days in the fridge.

  9. dragonlife Says:

    Don’ worry, Timothy!
    I promise here to all that if you manage to make it to Shizuoka I will invite you personally to Shizuoka Sake tasting at Tomii Restaurant in Shizuoka City!

  10. Melinda Says:

    Now, R-G, I have to get your reaction. So far, we’ve seen the results on Tokyofoodcast, Itadakimasu, and (partly) on And you know what my group thought. Any words of defense for Hana no Mai?

  11. dragonlife Says:

    Personally, and I’m still tasting two more of their brews, I think Hana No Mai is representative of Shizuoka Prefecture sake only in some instances, as they have opted to open to the young market.
    I must say I agree with you all. I was only moderately impressed by the two brews we sampled.
    They felt a bit too easy to guzzle down, if I may use the expression. Shizuoka Breweries have been choosing different ways very recently as people complained that all for their great quality, they tended to taste all the same. A new generation is coming up joining the ranks of breweries trying to develop stronger personalities. Hana No mai, being the only one truly large Brewery in Shizuoka might have gone astray in some cases while other breweries like Morimoto (Sayogoromo), Sugii, Takashima (Hakuin Masamune), Takasago and Sanwa (Garyubai) are producing some beauties with enormous character.
    Sake is evolving rapidly these days, so in spite of all the “critics” complaining that people drink less and less (cheap?) sake, there is a bright future for good quality sake and us the sake lovers!

  12. Cyber Tasting II at Tokyofoodcast Says:

    […] Robert-Gilles @ Shizuoka Sake […]

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