Dish - - Review -

Okay, first thing’s first; sake is not ac­tu­ally a spirit. Nei­ther is it a beer, wine, nor liqueur. Ja­pan’s na­tional drink is in a class all of its own. But while it tech­ni­cally doesn’t fit into the spirit cat­e­gory (be­ing fer­mented rather than dis­tilled) Zenkuro Sake cer­tainly fits the home­grown ar­ti­san pro­file. Ini­tially, the key play­ers of Zenkuro – hus­band-and-wife team Dave and Ya­suko Joll, Richard Ryall, Craig Mclach­lan and Yoshi­hiro Kawa­mura – had planned to bring a sake brew­ing team to Queen­stown from Ja­pan. It didn’t end up be­ing nec­es­sary as Dave com­pleted sake brew­ery in­tern­ships in Canada and Ja­pan, and stud­ied to be­come a Cer­ti­fied Ad­vanced Sake Pro­fes­sional. In just three years, they’ve pro­gressed from “be­ing a group of Ja­panophile, sake-lov­ing friends, to be­ing New Zealand’s first-ever sake brew­ing com­pany, with in­ter­na­tional awards un­der our belt,” Dave says. Made with the pris­tine, soft moun­tain water from the South­ern Alps, he says the air in Queen­stown too, be­ing dry, cool and clean, is an ideal sake brew­ing en­vi­ron­ment. For those unini­ti­ated into the won­der­ment that is sake, to cut a com­pli­cated story short, the ba­sic in­gre­di­ents are rice, water, pur­pose-pro­duced sake yeast and a sugar con­tent made from a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring mould. Hand-made in small batches, Zenkuro uses tra­di­tional Ja­panese tech­niques, which means no preser­va­tives or ad­di­tives. “The first time the en­tire team unan­i­mously nod­ded in ap­proval and smiled at each other as we tasted a new batch was a mo­ment we will never for­get,” says Dave. zenkuro.co.nz

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