The first sake I ever tried might have been cooking sake. It was in a dive bar in Soho, London, in 1998, it was served in a wooded masu box, and it tasted like dishwater cut with lighter fuel.  

Things didn’t get much better when I moved to Japan. Sake seemed to fall into just two camps: plain or bad. It would be nine years before anyone convinced me that people drank it for pleasure. 

I’m fully convinced now.  In fact, I believe that brewed rice is the most diverse, complex, extraordinary and exciting drink in the world – as long as you know what to ask for. The bad and the boring still exist, in copious amounts, but in amongst it all are sensational artisanal brews.   

The man who changed my mind was the owner of Kyoto’s Sake Bar Yoramu. He showed me that sake could resemble an oloroso sherry, a fino, a porter, or a limoncello, and he convinced me that everything I’d ever heard about the drink was completely and utterly wrong. Now I work with him exporting artisanal sakes under the KuroKura brand and host private tastings in Tokyo. Click below for more.