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  • Writer's pictureTien Chew

For The Sake Of Sake

Two premium bottles of sake are now available in Malaysia. Last month, online sake and Japanese spirits retailer Sakekami held a tasting to unveil two bottles that have a distinct marriage of French and Japanese expertise – IWA 5 Assemblage 2 and Tanaka 1789 x Chartier Blend 001. If you like sake, you'll want to pay attention to these new releases, as they really do bring something exquisite to the table.

Both IWA 5 Assemblage 2 and Tanaka 1789 x Chartier Blend 001 are exclusively available at Sakekami (links below)

IWA 5 Assemblage 2

Pan-seared fresh Hokkaido scallops with king crab with a touch of ganimiso and tare jyoyu sauce | Photo: K2 Marketing

What makes IWA 5 Assemblage 2 so special? For starters, the sake is the creation of Richard Geoffroy, who wine aficionados might better know as Dom Pérignon's fifth cave de cellar (cellar master) of 28 years. Leveraging his immense expertise in the world of champagne, Geoffroy created IWA 5 via a blending process as opposed to opting for the traditional single brew route, adding a new dimension to sake making. The entire crafting process, known as assemblage, separates IWA's signature offerings from the competition.

The number 5 is used to refer to the blending process which involves distinct components – the variety of rice (Yamada Nishiki, Omachi, Gohyakumangoku), the five different yeast strains that gives the sake a rich diversity of aromas and flavours, the fermentation starter and the reserve sake.

Geoffroy's love and respect for sake saw him set up his brewery in Tateyama, Toyama, in partnership with other legendary figures in and beyond the sake world, such as famed industrial designer Marc Newson (of whom I'm a fan) to design the bottle, Ryuichiro Masuda of sake brewery Masuda Shuzo and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma who designed the IWA's brewery.

IWA 5 Assemblage 2 is incredibly diverse, encouraging repeated sips to discover the full potential of the wine. Notes of plum, almond, butter and orange are listed as signature flavours of the sake, resulting in a clean, well balanced and robust sake that begs to be paired with various foods.

Tanaka 1789 x Chartier Blend 001

Inaniwa cold noodles served with caviar, ikura, gold leaf flakes and Tajimagro wagyu | Photo: K2 Marketing

I really enjoyed this. The result of a collaboration between Tanaka sake brewery and François Chartier, who is often hailed as a master sommelier by many icons of gastronomy the likes of Ferran Adrià, Tanaka 1789 x Chartier Blend 001 is a groundbreaking sake designed to emit different layers of flavours and aromas depending on its temperature for enhanced food pairing diversity. Charier and tôji (master brewer) Morikawa of Tanaka developed ten steps to their sake making, with Blend 001 being developed from two rice varieties – Miyama Nishiki and Kuro No Hana – and yeast types Classic No 6, 7 and Miyagi B3.

What makes this collaboration truly unique is the seamless melding of two worlds – the more-than-200-years of time-honoured techniques of Tanaka and the aromatic science of Chartier that focuses on molecular harmonies. When served chilled at 12 degrees, there's tropical notes of pineapple and slightly herbal notes of fresh basil. As it warms, the wine deepens in complexity, offering a creamier mouthfeel with flavours reminiscent of coconut and peach, making it a joy to drink.

If all this sounds interesting to you (because it is), I highly recommend that you read up on both Tanaka 1789 and Chartier before investing in a bottle. It's truly fascinating stuff witnessing the marriage of two cultures that always go above and beyond in the field of gastronomy.


In conjunction with the official debut of IWA 5 Assemblage 2 and Tanaka 1789 x Chartier Blend 001, K2 Marketing (who owns Sakekami) will be offering curated pairing dinners with selected establishments the likes of RokuNana Washu Bar, Ed.Ju Omakase, Dewakan, Rei Kappo Dining and Rare Food from now until April 2022. For those interested to know more, they can reach out to Kathryn Leong at

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