Wow, a saké made in Sydney?
It is. It’s not the first produced in this city (there are others, in particular Go-Shu in Penrith), but it’s an exciting, contemporary take on the Japanese rice wine. It took nine months for the inner-west craft-beer brewery Yulli’s Brews to make its two sakés: Thylacine Seishu and Diprotodon Nigorizake.

What do they taste like?
“They are quite different to each other,” says James Harvey, one of the owners of Yulli's Brews. “The Seishu is our take on a more traditional style Junmai saké (pure rice saké), which is soft and delicate and with some nice rounded melon on the nose and light peach and jasmine flavours at the back end.” He says it pairs well with savoury dishes such as ramen and curries, while the Doburoku works more with desserts or as a digestif. The more experimental, cloudy saké has bright green-apple aromas and a sharp upfront tartness. “It’s naturally carbonated and is a sight to behold when opened for the first time because the saké mash [yeast starter] explodes upwards.”

It wasn’t something they had planned to make
“This came about when our staff member Chiho Uei explained her newfound passion for making saké at home. At the time, we were hosting monthly markets at the brewery and we thought it would be a great addition to what was already happening,” says Harvey.

It’s a completely NSW product
The koji rice (fermented rice grains) is made in Sydney by Enokido Miso, and the medium-grain white rice they use to brew the products comes from NSW.

So is it good? According to Mike Bennie, wine and drinks journalist, presenter, co-owner of Newtown’s P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants and co-founder of the Drink Easy Awards, it is
“What a coup for Australian drinkers to be able to explore the personality of locally produced sake,” he tells Broadsheet. “The innovative folk of Yulli’s Brews has delivered us a superb ‘sake 101’ expression here, with a whip-crack-clear version that drinks with freshness and purity, and a charismatic, cloudy-spritzy version that delivers gulpability.

“It’s another bell ring for Australia’s wildly exciting drinks culture and a testament to the inventiveness and diversity we’re seeing hitting our glasses in this epoch. Kudos to the good folks of Yulli’s for nailing down an [easy-drinking] saké with a focus on local produce. These are really fun.”

Yulli’s Brews’s Thylacine Seishu and Diprotodon Nigorizake saké is now available at the Alexandria brewery and in select venues across Sydney. They retail for $52.

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