John Gauntner

John Gauntner

Posts by John Gauntner :

Nara Sake: The Original Sake. It's true! Ask the Brewer Mo...

I have long known that Nara Prefecture, which borders Osaka and Kyoto in western Japan, has been known as the birthplace of sake. But I got majorly schooled during a recent visit there.

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Sake Origins: Hiroshima. Senzaburo Miura and 'The Birthpla...

Ginjo sake, with all four of its sub-classes, is but seven percent of all sake brewed. Legally, it is defined by nothing more significant than how much the rice was milled before brewing. But technically, it calls for longer-term, lower-temperature fermentation.

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A Himeji Namazake With The Subtlety Of Cinder-blocks. It's...

John Gauntner, from, the archives, on excellent sake from Himeji city in Hyogo Prefecture: A while ago, I was privileged enough to attend a tasting of all sake made by Honda Shoten, brewers of Tatsuriki sake in Hyogo. For these guys, it is all about the rice, as well it should be. 

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Favorite Tipples. Koro Sake And Pilsner Urquell Beer. Sepa...

I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, it’s usually Pilsner Urquell. OK, that’s not true. It is usually from one of Japan’s quite passable large brewing companies. But without a doubt, my favorite beer in the world is Pilsner Urquell. And that tells you a lot about my preferences.

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Lees, Dregs, By-product: It's all Sake Kasu. Tasty and Hea...

Should you frequent sake retailers with anything resembling a good selection of sake, you will often find for sale bags of sake kasu: beige chunks and chips of something resembling cheese or tofu. Sometimes, the unmistakable fragrance of sake wafts up from the clear plastic bag as it sits on the counter.

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Naka-Whatevuh: the Middle Way of Sake and the Lovely Nagan...

John Gauntner, from the archive, writes: Naka in Japanese means middle. The character (中) is one of the easiest to remember of the gazillion or so that there are to learn.

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The Sake Masters: Time to give the Toji the Respect they D...

Recently, I read an article that came to me mysteriously by email about how winemakers in general deserve more attention and credit. The article suggested that too often folks fall in love with terroir, i.e. all that connects a wine to a certain place, and as such that the role of the person who actually called all the technical shots along the way gets downplayed, and that that shouldn’t be. The ...

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Nihonshu-do: Fuhgedaboudit! A Matter of (Specific) Gravity

John Gauntner, from the archive, on the nihonshu-do  +/- rating system used to indicate dryness or sweetness. Or not! Fuhgedaboutit!… unless you are brewing.

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Listen Up Drinkers! Now you HAVE TO say Kampai with Sake. ...

Several municipalities and one prefecture have put into effect actual legal ordinances  dictating that if you say kampai! it must be with sake (or in one case, shochu, Japan’s indigenous distilled beverage).

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Junmai Ginjo does not really exist, they told me

While visiting an old, very prestigious brewer, I was looking at their lineup. There was no junmai amongst their ginjo offerings. While they had their share of junmai-shu itself, once you got into their ginjo world, there was only non-junmai ginjo products.

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Hatsu-nomikiri: the First Tasting of the Season

Sake breweries are usually fairly quiet in the summer. Except for the few large breweries where brewing continues all year, most places are dark and quiet and empty, as the brewers themselves have gone home for the summer.

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Non-Junmai is Sake Too! Justification From On High

A while back, I participated in an event in Osaka in which I was privileged enough to be a part of a panel discussion with perhaps the most famous toji (master brewer) in existence. Actually, from just last year he took on the title “honorary toji,” and in his place at that particular brewery is another gent that is the de facto toji. Those are some big-ass shoes to fill!

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