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RICHIE HAWTIN TALKS SAKE

Let’s step way back. What is sake?
Sake is incredibly versatile. It makes a great aperitif or a drink to sip while sitting at the bar waiting for your date. Because it’s naturally brewed to about 16% alcohol, it gives you a little more punch than a glass of wine.

What makes sake so different from other booze?
It’s the unique balance of alcohol, low acidity and amino acids. Sake warms you up, frees your mind and is almost hypnotic in its purity and feeling.

Was your first encounter with sake an instant love affair?
Not so much. It was at a Japanese restaurant in Canada where they served me something like high-octane rocket fuel. Luckily, I visited Japan for the first time shortly afterwards and was introduced to the real thing. I was hooked. That was in 1994.

What’s the key word to know about sake?
Junmai is an important word. It means “pure rice’ and refers to a type of craft sake that is natural and without any preservatives or additives, making it a healthy and even vegan beverage.

Is “pure rice” the most important distinction for picking a good sake?
People get hung up a lot on the terminology, especially the designations: Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo, names which apply to different styles of sake based on how much the rice used to produce it has been polished. Many people think more rice polishing equals better sake but this is not the case; they are just different. When you pick from the sake menu, the best strategy is to treat it as if you were selecting a wine. If you prefer a sweeter, aromatic taste, ask for a Ginjo-style sake, and for a drier, more textured experience, choose a basic Junmai-style.

What’s your current favourite?
That’s a hard one. Sookuu from Kyoto will always have a warm place in my heart since it’s the first brewery that we started collaborating with. Other favourites include the legendary 14th-generation Juyondai from Yamagata, a rich, delicious sake full of fruity aroma, and the many sake varieties from the Shizouka region, like Isojiman and Kuheiji.

Which vessel should be used to enjoy sake?
Premium sake is like a fine wine, whether you enjoy it from a

small traditional masu or wooden box, an ochoko or small ceramic cup, or just your favourite wine glass. Just don’t down it like a shot.

What’s the best food to pair with sake?Of course sake goes well when it’s paired with Japanese dishes and any food rich in umami. With Italian food, for instance, you can find taste combinations and flavour explosions that are even more delightful than a classical wine pairing.

If sake is heaven, what is sake-based shochu?

Shochu is a spirit so there’s quite a different experience to it. If sake is like floating on a technicolour cloud high above the ground, shochu is like a heady labyrinth of no escape!

Which song makes the perfect sake partner?

The Tunnel, from my album DE9 Transitions. And the first

album of Robert Hood, Internal Empire.

Did you ever devise a track while on sake?

When I’m in the studio I’m always completely sober. Having

said that, sake and electronic music are complimentary. The hypnotic grooves and repetitions of minimal techno take you deeper inside, which are perfectly in sync with the feeling of sake. Everything that I’m involved in has connections to frequencies. There are the frequencies I use to construct my music, the technology that allows me to create it, the frequencies of the people dancing in front of me and the frequency of sake. It’s always about finding a common frequency that brings us all together.

@richiehawtin

SOUNDS AND

SAKE

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