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Sake Reviews

Toko Junmai Daiginjo Shizuku | 東光 純米大吟醸袋吊り


Toko is one of the oldest active Sake brewers in Japan and is a highly regarded one at that - no small feat in a country that has some of the world's oldest establishments, and with Sake breweries aplenty.

Set against the snowy mountain ranges of Mt. Azuma, the Yamagata-based brewery draws its mineral rich spring water from the Mogami River. The water that trickles down the river has been naturally filtered as it makes its way down the mountain in what started out decades ago as snowfall. The ambient climate around the brewery sees it tucked in six meters of snow on average, with a temperature of 11℃.

Mt. Azuma.


The brewery has been here since even before the Edo period, and it was only six years after its establishment that the Tokugawa shogunate was established. An early mastery of Sake brewing allowed the brewery to be appointed as the primary purveyor of fine Sakes to the Uesugi family, which at the time was one of the most powerful Samurai clans. They even called its chief the Dragon of Echigo.

Now you don't get to be this old and not have some quirks.

You ever wonder about the Richard IV's or Elizabeth III's of the world? Like what is the western world's obsession with continuously using a name (and a rather generic one at that) over and over. There are so many other names out there - pick another! 

Well, meet Yazaemon Kojima the 23rd.



Behind Toko is its family-owned brewery, Kojima Sohonten, which was founded in 1597 by Yazaemon Kojima who ran both a Sake brewery and a local pawnshop. Yet since then, the family has decided that each generation's head of the family and by extension the family-owned brewery's chief, will take on the name Yazaemon Kojima. Thus as the brewery has operated for over 400 years across 23 generations, at the helm of the brewery each generation is a Yazaemon Kojima. You've definitely gotta give it to them for their hardcore commitment to maintaining consistency.  

And with these feathers to its cap, Toko remains a highly regarded Sake brand till this day.

Today we'll give Toko's Junmai Daiginjo Shizuku a go! This is one of the brewery's most premium expressions that is made with an entirely unique process.



The Toko Junmai Daiginjo Shizuku is made with Yamada Nishiki rice that's polished up to an impressive 35% rice polishing ratio, and more interestingly is made with a special technique called fukuro-tsuri or drip Sake. This means that the Sake bottled comes only from the drops of Sake that fall from the fermented rice mash known as the moromi. The moromi is hung in a filter bag and allowed to have its Sake dripped out and collected using only gravity - this is a laborious and time consuming process, but is said to produce much richer and denser Sakes that have a more elegant fragrance, taste and texture.

Let's give it a go!

Toko Junmai Daiginjo Shizuku | 東光 純米大吟醸袋吊り - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Light Tint

Aroma: Crisp, with some light tartness, as well as honeydew melons. There’s also a little bit of grassiness.

Taste: Much more creamy here with light chilli spiciness, but also packing lots of honeydew melon sweetness - really, really fruity stuff.

Finish: More of that spicy bird’s eye chilli, yet not overwhelming.  Lingering melon sweetness that goes on and on.


My Thoughts

Very flavoursome stuff here - great bold flavours, texturally also very enjoyable with this acute chilli spiciness that’s contrasted with the denser concentrated honeydew melon sweetness.

I really enjoyed this from so many sides - solid, solid stuff! All that complexity, elegance and boldness.


My Rating: 9/10


Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.