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Natural Sparkling Sec | Review by Jiji

Mutsu Hassen Natural Sparkling is brewed in the Aomori Prefecture, in the Northern part of Honshu Island, by Hachinoe brewery.
Founded in 1740, Hachinohe has a long history of brewing, and it is making its best effort in being environmentally friendly. In fact, it uses local resources such as water, yeast and rice.


Hachinohe's lineup includes many delicious sakes, and Mutsu Hassen Natural Sparkling truly is one of their highlights.

 

Jiji enjoying her Natural Sparkling Sec by the Sumida River in Tokyo.

Mutsu Hassen is a sparkling sake with 13% alcohol, which is slightly lower than most sake. It has a pearl-like colour, and it is very gentle on the nose with an intriguing aroma reminiscent of plum, lychee and unsweetened yoghurt.


Mutsu Hassen has a refreshing flavour with notes of melon, lychee, green apple, cedarwood and a hint of lime. It is refreshing, and it is the perfect choice for anyone new to sake. At the same time, it is really interesting for sake fans too, as it is a bit of a surprise. In fact, at first glance, I thought it was going to be way sweeter, as sparkling sake often is, and I was amazed by its perfect balance and drinkability. It is the kind of sake that brings everyone together, first-timers and sake fans alike. One of the things I appreciate the most about this sake is its versatility as it really brings out the umami of the food, and it pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes.


I would recommend drinking this sake chilled (around 5°C~8°C) in a wine glass, or better in a flute.
Mutsu Hassen is fresh and crisp at the same time, with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. This sparkling sake has a light body that makes it really easy to drink, a medium dryness and a beautiful aftertaste that shows a slight salinity. Perfect for a toast, it'll pair amazingly with some finger food for a bubbly happy hour.


As the weather gets warmer, a sip of Mutsu Hassen is a true blessing.
Imagine a warm summer evening. After a long hot day, you finally head to dinner. A refreshing breeze brings to your nose the wonderful smell that comes from the restaurant kitchen. You sit at the terrace; it's time to start aperitivo. In front of you, a beautiful platter of assorted cheese: Camembert, Mozzarella, Parmigiano.., melon slices wrapped in Parma ham, figs with honey, fried scampi. All this is accompanied, of course, by Mutsu Hassen. Its light and refreshing flavour will quench your thirst and will make each bite shine.


Next is the grilled mackerel you ordered, simply seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. The mild dryness of the sake is the perfect balance for the dish. Again, Mutsu Hassen will ease you into the evening and accompany you throughout it.

What a fantastic night,
Jiji

£29.90
⭐️ £27.90 (member price)

Giulia aka Jiji

🇮🇹

Based in Tokyo

Learn More About Guilia

My name is Giulia, but you can call me Jiji. Born and raised in Italy, I moved to Japan in 2015. I started working in the tourism industry as soon as I arrived in Tokyo. My focus quickly shifted to Japanese food culture and sake, and this was when the sake journey started. Focused on spreading the knowledge of this Japanese ambrosia, I took the 利酒師 Kikizakeshi diploma in Japanese and started hosting tastings and doing lectures about sake. In 2020 I founded Jijisake and created https://www.jijisake.com/ where I talk about sake, share facts & anecdotes and host online tastings.

I also took the Certified Sake Professional (CSP) diploma recognized by the Sake Education Council. Thirsty for knowledge, I briefly worked at Itakura Shuzo, a sake brewery located in the Shimane Prefecture.

More recently, I became a Sake Educator with the SSA. And this is just the beginning. I really cannot wait to share my passion and love for Japanese sake with everyone.

 

Q#: When and where was the first time you had sake? Was it love at first sight or more of a long slow-burning love story? Do you remember what that first sake was? How was it served?

The first time I had sake, I was in Italy. I and some friends went to a "Japanese restaurant" and ordered sake without knowing much about it. I got this piping hot drink (I don't even remember the brand) that was warmed up in a microwave for sure. Not the best first experience. When I visited Japan, I finally had the chance to try sake properly, and I loved it.


Q#: What led you to make sake your full-time career?

It's hard to explain, but since I started getting involved in this amazing industry, I can't go back to doing anything else. The history and the cultural background is so intriguing. And the beautiful and passionate people I get to meet thanks to this amazing journey makes me just want to get even more into it. It's like love, it feels so real, yet you can't explain it.

 

Q#: Did you have any misconceptions about sake before?

More than misconceptions, there was so much I didn't know about it. Luckily, I didn't have a strong idea of what sake was (or supposedly was) before moving to Japan, so I started from a white canvas and worked from there.

 

Q#: What do you think is the biggest misconception people outside of Japan have about sake.

Probably that sake is booze just to get drunk. Another one is that if a sake isn't "premium" (or if they don't see the word premium on the bottle) then it isn't good sake. Sometimes words can be deceiving.

 

Q#: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the sake industry right now?

Well, now I'd have to say that one of the biggest challenges is Covid, as for many other industries as well. Unfortunately, the Japanese government is prohibiting restaurants and bars from serving alcoholic beverages, and this, as you can imagine, has a huge impact on the industry. Aside from the virus, climate change is affecting rice cultivation and farmers are facing a big challenge trying to adapt to it.

 

Q#: What advice would you give to people looking to explore the world of sake?

Luckily, there is a lot of information out there, so checking up a thing or two online definitely helps. If you really don't know where to start, join a tasting experience to get useful tips. I do many online tastings nowadays for beginners to help them understand the labels, the types and, hopefully, boost their confidence in buying sake. But, most importantly, getting out of our comfort zone and trying new things is ALWAYS important. Try a couple of different bottles; sake is really supportive of food and way more forgiving than wine when it comes to food pairing. You won't regret it!

 

Q#: Do you have sake in your fridge as we speak? What is it?

As we speak, I have, let me count... 21 bottles of sake. Is it too much? lol
Some bottles are in the fridge, some outside. I like to do my own experiments, and sometimes I ill-treat sake on purpose to see how long it takes to go bad or how it changes over time. I have a bit of everything. Honestly, I don't buy much junmai daiginjo, I prefer aged sake, yamahai & kimoto, and I love anything funky ;)

 

Q#: To anyone interested in sake right now, what would you like to say to them?

Be curious! If you never tried sake, the easiest way is a bottle of junmai daiginjo or junmai ginjo, as usually, these are quite smooth and delicate. Make that be your first bottle, and from there, dare to try more types, and enjoy it with your favourite dishes. You don't have to wait to get sushi to drink sake. Have it with a barbecue, with cheese, with pizza and with anything else in between! And have fun!

Guilia aka Jiji 🇮🇹

Based in Tokyo

Learn More About Guilia

My name is Giulia, but you can call me Jiji. Born and raised in Italy, I moved to Japan in 2015. I started working in the tourism industry as soon as I arrived in Tokyo. My focus quickly shifted to Japanese food culture and sake, and this was when the sake journey started. Focused on spreading the knowledge of this Japanese ambrosia, I took the 利酒師 Kikizakeshi diploma in Japanese and started hosting tastings and doing lectures about sake. In 2020 I founded Jijisake and created https://www.jijisake.com/ where I talk about sake, share facts & anecdotes and host online tastings.

I also took the Certified Sake Professional (CSP) diploma recognized by the Sake Education Council. Thirsty for knowledge, I briefly worked at Itakura Shuzo, a sake brewery located in the Shimane Prefecture.

More recently, I became a Sake Educator with the SSA. And this is just the beginning. I really cannot wait to share my passion and love for Japanese sake with everyone.

 

Q#: When and where was the first time you had sake? Was it love at first sight or more of a long slow-burning love story? Do you remember what that first sake was? How was it served?

The first time I had sake, I was in Italy. I and some friends went to a "Japanese restaurant" and ordered sake without knowing much about it. I got this piping hot drink (I don't even remember the brand) that was warmed up in a microwave for sure. Not the best first experience. When I visited Japan, I finally had the chance to try sake properly, and I loved it.


Q#: What led you to make sake your full-time career?

It's hard to explain, but since I started getting involved in this amazing industry, I can't go back to doing anything else. The history and the cultural background is so intriguing. And the beautiful and passionate people I get to meet thanks to this amazing journey makes me just want to get even more into it. It's like love, it feels so real, yet you can't explain it.

 

Q#: Did you have any misconceptions about sake before?

More than misconceptions, there was so much I didn't know about it. Luckily, I didn't have a strong idea of what sake was (or supposedly was) before moving to Japan, so I started from a white canvas and worked from there.

 

Q#: What do you think is the biggest misconception people outside of Japan have about sake.

Probably that sake is booze just to get drunk. Another one is that if a sake isn't "premium" (or if they don't see the word premium on the bottle) then it isn't good sake. Sometimes words can be deceiving.

 

Q#: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the sake industry right now?

Well, now I'd have to say that one of the biggest challenges is Covid, as for many other industries as well. Unfortunately, the Japanese government is prohibiting restaurants and bars from serving alcoholic beverages, and this, as you can imagine, has a huge impact on the industry. Aside from the virus, climate change is affecting rice cultivation and farmers are facing a big challenge trying to adapt to it.

 

Q#: What advice would you give to people looking to explore the world of sake?

Luckily, there is a lot of information out there, so checking up a thing or two online definitely helps. If you really don't know where to start, join a tasting experience to get useful tips. I do many online tastings nowadays for beginners to help them understand the labels, the types and, hopefully, boost their confidence in buying sake. But, most importantly, getting out of our comfort zone and trying new things is ALWAYS important. Try a couple of different bottles; sake is really supportive of food and way more forgiving than wine when it comes to food pairing. You won't regret it!

 

Q#: Do you have sake in your fridge as we speak? What is it?

As we speak, I have, let me count... 21 bottles of sake. Is it too much? lol
Some bottles are in the fridge, some outside. I like to do my own experiments, and sometimes I ill-treat sake on purpose to see how long it takes to go bad or how it changes over time. I have a bit of everything. Honestly, I don't buy much junmai daiginjo, I prefer aged sake, yamahai & kimoto, and I love anything funky ;)

 

Q#: To anyone interested in sake right now, what would you like to say to them?

Be curious! If you never tried sake, the easiest way is a bottle of junmai daiginjo or junmai ginjo, as usually, these are quite smooth and delicate. Make that be your first bottle, and from there, dare to try more types, and enjoy it with your favourite dishes. You don't have to wait to get sushi to drink sake. Have it with a barbecue, with cheese, with pizza and with anything else in between! And have fun!

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