For the sake for sake

Posted: October 10, 2022 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , , ,

A miracle occurred this weekend! My husband had the entire weekend off! We decided to take advantage of that and head north to Petrified Forest National Park. As we headed up, both in direction and elevation, we finally reached this view and a temperature of 50F. We were wearing jackets. Color me excited!!

The closest town to Petrified Forest is Holbrook, Arizona, railroad and Route 66 town, which is now a sake destination. Sound unreal? It does but it’s also true. Atsuo Sakurai worked his way up from cleaning floors and other chores to first-grade master sake brewer in Japan. But sake brewing licenses are scarce there and he and his Navajo wife Heather moved to the US, eventually ending in Holbrook to be near her family. I’d read an article about him and his brewery in Arizona Highways but had forgotten about it until I was searching for things to see/do near Holbrook. We decided the chance to taste internationally recognized sake was too good to pass up.

From a start in their garage, Atsuo eventually opened a small business where his junmai gingo won a gold medal as the best sake produced outside of Japan. That’s a serious honor. He also won best sake in the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

Do read the Smithsonian article. It’s really interesting and worth the time.

Here is rice fermenting.

I called on Friday to ask if we could meet him for a tour and tasting and he agreed. The tour doesn’t take long and we tasted all five sakes. The large bottle in the middle is the original award-winning one, the others riffs on that. From left to right: Desert Snow (unfiltered), Herbs and Bitters, the original Junmai Ginjo, Prickly Pear, and Navajo Native tea (a suggestion from his father-in-law.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried sake but based on my experience I expect at least a bit of bite. Was I wrong! Every one was smooth and delicious. We ended up buying one of each and plan on a family sake tasting or two at Christmas when everyone’s here. So not only was it was wonderful story, the end result was delicious. Win-win.

It was a great start to our day. Now it was time to head for Petrified Forest.

  1. Sounds like a great start for a weekend

  2. restlessjo says:

    I have to say that I haven’t tasted it and it looks weird in the Arizona bottles. I don’t like sushi and the two go together in my mind but I’ll try a drop at the next opportunity, Janet. Glad you had a good weekend. Fabulous first photo!

    • I didn’t think I’d enjoy it so much either, Jo, but all of them were so smooth and tasty. I don’t do sushi, despite family and friends insisting they think I’d like it. But I do California rolls and rolls with cooked seafood such as a shrimp tempura roll.

  3. bushboy says:

    The worst hangover I have ever had was drinking beer with sake shot chasers. The next day we were supposed to go out taking photos. I was laying semi comatose in the sun on the verandah when Glen came to pick me up.
    We were in winery territory but ended up having a Devonshire Tea to eat…..and lots of water πŸ˜‚

  4. peggy says:

    Sounds like you found some hidden jewels in Arizona. It is beautiful country in that area. The petried Forest is a great place to see. I have been there several times. Great post Janet. That first picture is drop=dead beautiful. Ha Ha

    • I’ve been to Petrified Forest at least twice: once when I was a child and once after we got married. The trip there was beautiful and the sake tasting lots of fun.

  5. Who knew? Great discovery.

    • It really was, John. I’m happy we stopped and happy we could support his business. I love that it’s such a small place making world-class sake in a place you’d never expect to find it.

  6. Jessica says:

    Wow! That’s really cool!

  7. Jet Eliot says:

    Sounds like a fun adventure for you two on his precious time off. Interesting to see the world of sake, Janet, and I loved that first photo of the forest landscape and big clouds.

  8. That sounds like it was a lot of fun!

  9. The view was gorgeous. It sounds like Christmas Sake Tasting at your place is going to be “lit”…er um…fun and tasty! πŸ˜‚

  10. Cee Neuner says:

    I so love the Petrified Woods. I hope you get some terrific photos πŸ˜€

  11. Sue says:

    Sounds like you had a good time!

  12. de Wets Wild says:

    I smiled at the naughty thought of you misunderstanding the “petrified” part in the name of your destination and deciding to get some fortification for the nerves on your way there to be a little braver… πŸ˜€

  13. billgncs says:

    a great day with better company

  14. Marsha says:

    Another place for my bucket list, Janet. Sounds like a lot of fun. Does he know you wrote this article?

  15. […] had such fun when Janet of This That and the Other Thing was here in Prescott. We walked downtown searching for unusual doors. With Terri of Second Wind […]

  16. Wind Kisses says:

    This is a great story. I thought the same of sake, and have never tried it because of that. This is interesting history/ culture about Holbrook.