Good things come in small packages. This old adage seems to ring especially true with the launch of Small Sake. Don’t be fooled by its cutesy, soda-like packaging; each 163ml can is filled with premium junmai nihonshu that’s brewed in Nara, Japan, before it’s brought to Hong Kong and repackaged in a factory facility in Aberdeen.
“People can easily name famous wine, whisky or vodka brands but not many people (at least, aside from the experts) can identify a single brand of sake,” says the product’s co-founder Marek Malcharczyk. Seeing this problem, Malcharczyk and his business partner Pontus Karlsson launched Small Sake as a way to build up recognition for the alcoholic drink. The modern packaging and easy-to-remember name strip away some of the intimidating customs and ceremonies which come with the traditional Japanese beverage. “It’s all about accessibility,” says Malcharczyk, adding that Small Sake is designed to introduce nihonshu to the mass audience.
The product itself is incredibly smooth with a mellow, rice fragrance followed by a crisp aftertaste. It’s premium-grade stuff made from sakamai rice from Akita prefecture that’s polished so that only 70 percent of the kernel remains. The low acidity and alcohol level (15 percent abv) makes it a good standalone sipper, especially when it’s served chilled (between 4°c and 6°c) and enjoyed in handcrafted sake glasses. But Malcharczyk also encourages people to explore the potentials of the drink through mixing and matching. The junmai does particularly well in a highball – a popular cocktail made by serving the base alcohol on the rocks and topping it with soda or any other mixer. And, according to Malcharczyk, the smooth rice wine also goes down surprisingly well as a beer chaser.
Small Sake will be popping up at bars, restaurants, clubs, and beverage retailers around town, including Soho Wines & Spirits (www.sohowines.hk). Keep your eyes peeled for more stockists.