GSN Presents: The 2017 Advent Gift Guide – Day 23

With only two days to go until Christmas Eve, there’s not enough time to order gifts.  So, until then, we’re going to suggest some items that we’ve rated highly this year that you can find in your local liquor store (hopefully).  For Day 23, we’re focusing on the 30 spirited products that received a GSN Rating of A (93) during 2017.

  1. Amarula Cream Liqueur
  2. Corbin Cash Sweet Potato Liqueur
  3. Deadhead Dark Chocolate Rum
  4. Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino Walnut Liqueur
  5. Don Ciccio & Figli Amaro delle Sirene
  6. Dunedin DoubleCask 16 Year Old
  7. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. A117
  8. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. B517
  9. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. C917
  10. El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Limited Edition
  11. Frisco Brandy
  12. Galliano L’Aperitivo
  13. Haikara Yuzu Sake
  14. Highland Park Valkyrie
  15. Hirsch Small Batch 8 Year Old High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  16. Jura 10-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  17. Kavalan Pedro Ximénez Single Cask Whisky
  18. Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask 2017 Edition
  19. Lucid Absinthe
  20. The Macallan Edition No. 1
  21. The Macallan Edition No. 2
  22. Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky
  23. Marble Distilling Co. Vodka
  24. Marble Distilling Co. Gingercello
  25. McKenzie Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
  26. Montanya Exclusiva Rum
  27. Redemption Wheated Bourbon
  28. South Island 25 Year Old Single Malt
  29. Union Horse Rolling Standard Four Grain Whiskey
  30. Westland Distillery’s 2017 Peat Week Commemorative Bottling

GSN Review: Haikara Yuzu Sake

It’s widely believed that sake’s first introduction to the U.S. occurred when American soldiers stationed in Japan after World War II returned home with a taste for it. While this prompted an increase in sake importing and popularity among restaurateurs and despite numerous sake varietals in the marketplace, the vast majority of American’s are only familiar with the choice between having house sake, served hot or cold. Since the time it was introduced in America there has been little change in the diversity breadth of diversity of sake offered – until now.

From the renowned fifth-generation-run sake producer Umenoyado in Nara, Japan comes the unique “Haikara Sake.” Building upon a traditional foundation, this new fruit-infused sake was created in celebration of the popularity of Japanese culture throughout the United States serving to meld the cultures of east and west.

The Western influence in Japan has brought new trends in style, fashion, and culture, which inspired Umenoyado to name this new sake “Haikara.” Literally translating to “High Collar,” in reference to the collared shirts worn by Westerners, but meaning “Fashionably Western, this term is now recognized as a way to describe the synergistic blending of cultures. The popularity of “Fashionably Western,” in Japan as well as the admiration of Japanese cultures in America was the catalyst that shaped Haikara’s development, including the flavor profiles, the recipe and even the packaging.

“One may think a company that has been making sake for over 100 years would be stuck in their ways, however, this is not the case for Umenoyado,” said Kayo Yoshida, the President of Umenoyado. “Umenoyado is a leader in sake innovation and prides itself on being an industry pioneer while staying true to the age-old craft of making sake. There are two things Umenoyado will not compromise on: water and rice. The water flows from Mt. Katsuragi and the rice is nurtured in Hyogo. This ensures that the sake, no matter how innovative, always maintains the legacy and roots of its origin.”

Haikara is currently available in two varieties: ‘Yuzu,’ which is made with a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a small grapefruit; and ‘Momo,’ which is derived from a type of Japanese peach that is larger and softer than Western peaches. GSN received a bottle of the Yuzu for review.

Haikara Yuzu Sake (12.5% abv)
Visual: Cloudy yellow-white.
Nose: Grassy citrus with an unusual semi-musky funk.
Taste: Tart and very citrus forward. The sake supports the yuzu with a soft creaminess, but make no mistake this is akin to a sour mix in character, which makes it perfect for use in cocktails.
Finish: Medium long, with the sweeter notes coming out of hiding after the tang has faded.
Overall: A very interesting and surprisingly addictive beverage. We tried it room temperature straight, on the rocks, chilled and even in a few sours, and it worked every time.  The consensus is that chilling helps the flavors cohesiveness, but that’s up to you.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Haikara Sake