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Sake in Cups & Cans – Quality, Convenient & Distinctively Fun

[Sommelier Talk 40]

SM401A decade ago, serving cup Sake and canned beer at a restaurant would have been quite unthinkable, however, as dining styles take on a more casual approach to entice today’s customers, Sake, pre-packed in glass jars and metal cans are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, cup Sake is a very practical option for busy food-service operations. They don’t require added serving ware and also free up prized refrigerator space. Moreover they can be chilled quickly which is a big bonus during peak hours. Another benefit of cup Sake is the wallet-friendly price, with most starting around $6 each. However, despite the numerous upsides, there is a major demerit. The lower price point connotes an image of being low quality and budget-brewed which bars them from many upscale restaurants, thus limiting the availability to mostly casual restaurants.

Canned beers on the other hand are perceived differently. In fact, American consumers are becoming increasingly aware of canned beers as being higher in quality versus bottled, cleverly advised by campaigns jump started by local brewers who turned to canning beers to maintain the quality of their brews. Bars featuring an array of canned craft beers are popular these days, especially among younger drinkers. In their minds, high quality craft beer that’s value-priced, no matter the packing material, is a winning combination.

Beer served by the glass, which is the majority in the food-service trade, has several factors which may diminish quality. For instance, beer can be incorrectly poured into a glass, poured beers can take a while before reaching the customer’s table, or beer kegs can be stored improperly. Finally, bottled beers cost twice its canned counterpart, making the canned a much better choice for casual drinking scenes.

Kikusui Funaguchi Ichiban Shibori is a collection of Sake-In-a-Can from Kikusui Shuzo. Ichiban Shibori literally means “first pressed”, referring to the Sake that flows at the very first press, undiluted and unpasteurized. Traditionally, this was a treat reserved exclusively to brewery visitors, as there were no means to stabilize the raw Sake for commercial distribution. Responding to consumers’ requests, Kikusui launched the world’s first, shelf stable, genuinely first pressed Sake in November 1972. Funaguchi Ichiban Shibori is a Nama Genshu or raw, draft Sake that has not undergone heat sterilization, and contains zero Wari-Mizu or added water. Packed in aluminum cans, unorthodox in the Sake category, the metal completely blocks out oxygen and light, thereby preventing the delicate Sake from oxidizing and deteriorating.

The name “Funaguchi” comes from “FUNE” or boat, and “GUCHI” for mouth. Fune is a long and narrow, boat-shaped wooden vessel used to hold bags filled with unfiltered Sake. When the Fune is pressed, the liquid Sake flows out to be collected.

The name “ICHIBAN SHIBORI” is a Kikusui Shuzo original and the first to be used in the liquor industry. Decades later, the beer brewery giant Kirin Brewery approached Kikusui Shuzo for permission to use that very name upon their launch of the now very popular product “Kirin Ichiban Shibori”.

There are four products in the Funaguchi Ichiban Shibori line, differentiated by the duration of aging from fresh to long aged, and Sake types. All four are unique, and can be enjoyed paired with completely different cuisines, occasions, and serving styles.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Complements rich & spicy flavored dishes, Teriyaki sauced dishes, Takoyaki, Ika Shiokara, Chinese oyster sauced meat dishes

Funaguchi-GoldFunaguchi Kikusui 200ml
the GOLD can
Region: Niigata, Sake Rice: Local Rice
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): 70%
SMV (Nihonshudo): -3.0, Acidity: 1.8
Alcohol Level: 19%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $10.50

Kikusui Funaguchi is truly unique, one of a kind. This Sake can be aged in its can to create a clear tasting, new Sake. To age, store between 46 F to 50 F degrees. After six months, the Sake becomes full with richness. After eight to ten months, a brandy-like character emerges, and after a year, transforms to a full-bodied aged Sake.

Flavor Profile for Menu Listing:
Ripened apple, banana, and mango, with a creamy-rich fruitful finish.

Funaguchi-RedFunaguchi Kikusui 200ml 
the RED can
Region: Niigata, Sake Rice: Local
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): 55%
SMV (Nihonshudo): -4.0 Acidity: 1.7
Alcohol Level: 19%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $12.00

Jyukusei Aged Funaguchi is one of the highly sought after Funaguchi product. This red canned Funaguchi is aged for one year to take on a rich and dense flavor that is simply delicious. Full-bodied with a hint of sweetness, Jyukusei Funaguchi pairs well with rich and spicy dishes.

Flavor Profile for Menu Listing:
Well ripened apple, banana, pineapple and lychee, with a creamy-soft, smooth finish.

Funaguchi-GreenFunaguchi Kikusui 200ml 
the GREEN can
Region: Niigata Sake Rice: Local Rice
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): 70 %
SMV (Nihonshudo): -3.0 Acidity: 1.8
Alcohol Level: 19%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $12.00

This is a seasonal, limited edition Sake that’s one of the highly sought after Funaguchi product. Shinmai Shinshu Funaguchi is young, not aged. Brewed with newly harvested, locally grown Niigata rice. Savor its sweet rice aroma and crisp freshness.

Flavor Profile for Menu Listing:
Apple, plum, pineapple, and banana flavors, with ample lively finish.

Funaguchi-BlackFunaguchi Kikusui 200ml 
the BLACK can
Region: Niigata Sake Rice: Local Rice
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): 70%
SMV (Nihonshudo): -2.0 Acidity: 1.8
Alcohol Level: 19%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $18.00

A premium limited edition Funaguchi. This Funaguchi is spiked with single-distilled shochu made from Kikusui Sake lees. Kunko Funaguchi Kikusi is full bodied and rich with flavor, noted with its distinctive noble aroma and Umami.

Flavor Profile for Menu Listing:
Flavors of yellow apple, ripe plum, pineapple, and banana, with a impactful-rich texture, and a crisp-dry finish.

Kikumasa Cup Sake 180ml Kikumasamune-Sake-Cup
Region: Nada, Hyogo Sake Rice: Yamadanishiki,
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): N/A
SMV (Nihonshudo): +1.0 Acidity: 1.8
Alcohol Level: 14-15%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $6.00

Casual style Cup Sake meets casual style dining. Crisp with the legendary clean, yet full-body taste of a Kikumasamune.
Excellent match with dishes such as Ramen, Yakitori.
Flavor Profile for Menu Listing: Umami-rich flavor, with a clean and dry finish.
Food Pairing Suggestion: Noodles, grilled fish/chicken dishes, Tempura, pizza, burgers

Kikumasamune Dry Sake Cup from Kikumasamune Shuzo, the legendary brewery founded in 1659, with history dating back 356 years to the days of Ietsuna, Tokugawa’s fourth Shogun. This dry sake is created surrounded by the natural beauty of the Rokko Moutains, and by the hands of a Tamba Master Brewer. It asserts “harmony with cuisine, in pursuit of pairing finesse”, and pledges to never become a boring Sake.

Kikumasamune is characterized by the gently-slow rising flavor and the depth in taste, deemed the definitive classical dry flavor that draws true Sake fans. The clean and robust tasting brew is possible only from nature that Miyamizu of Mt Rokko River provides. This special water carries rich minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and others, which become nutrients to the Sake microorganisms including yeast fungus, leading to a healthy and vigorous fermentation and alcohol conversion. Also it’s know that the liquors made with Miyamizu improves with aging, accentuating aromas and rounding out flavors over time. This dry sake matches a wide variety of dishes, with Sushi, meats, and even Ramen.

Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Canned Sake 180ml Tamanohikari-JG
Region: Fushimi, Kyoto
Sake Rice: Koshihikari
Polish Ratio (Seimaibuai): 60%
SMV (Nihonshudo): +3.0 Acidity: 1.8
Alcohol Level: 15-16%
Suggested Menu Price in Los Angeles area: $11.70

Tamanohikari Junmai Sake-In-a-Can delivers a clear taste, balanced perfectly with natural acids and Umami. This canned Sake is featured in the popular Japanese food-comic series, Oishinbo and Natsuko no Sake. With the coming the warmer seasons, this is perfect with spring-season cuisine.
Flavor Profile for Menu Listing: Ripe banana flavor with a hint of vanilla and white pepper.
Food Pairing Suggestion: Complements light flavored dishes: edamame, sashimi, tempura, ginger spiced white meats

Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Canned Sake by Tamanohikari Shuzo, founded in 1673, is backed by a 342 years’ brewing history. Tamanohikari led the industry’s forefront, transforming before others to an all-Junmaishu brewery in 1964, and in 1980 raised the bar further from being an all-Junmai producer to an all-Ginjo.

Despite the turmoil of the postwar era with prohibitively escalating ingredient costs Tamanohikari weathered hardships by staying true to their slogan, “Producing 100% rice-brewed Sake is the honorable thing to do”. Holding high standards for their rice ingredient with their belief in “Sake brewing excellence starts with nurturing good quality Sake rice”, Tamanohikari contracts select rice growing regions with a decade of continuous organic farming. Polishing is also an exact art at Tamanohikari, processed in-house rather than by rice polishing traders.



Attractive Display
highlight the collection of the unique bottle designs,
placed in a cooler filled with ice.

Tasting Flights
is a fun feature that builds an exciting buzz,
especially with group guests.

Unique Category
offer several products, at least a collection of 3,
to highlight the unique category.

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