The PR Times site reports on a crowdfunding initiative that raised 800% of its target – oh yes, it’s pun time – bringing home the bacon.
The campaign was for a sake and food pairing experience, started by Tokyo-based Forbul on 12 September 2018, and billed as “a once in a lifetime sake experience that will change your life”. 370 supporters pledged JPY 2,500,000 to the project.
The project was titled “Nihonshu x meat – a once in a lifetime sake pairing experience that will change your life – Takameishi (Hawkseye)”. The “hawkseye” part refers to the gemstone better known in English as “tiger’s eye”.
The article goes on to define “pairing” (spelled out phonetically as ペアリング) as an ultimate combination of food and drink, cleverly combining the characteristics of each to enhance the aroma and flavour of both and create an otherwise unobtainable “third taste”.
Keita Akaboshi, known as the “god of pairing”, was also involved in the project. He lived in New York for 18 years, working to popularise sake by running a sake bar, acting as a sake menu consultant and also somellier. Having established himself as an expert in sake pairing, he returned in triumph to Japan and opened his own bar Akaboshi to Kumagai in Tokyo’s Azabu-jūban district. He took part in this project out of a desire to allow people to experience pairing at home.
Seiya Hirano, president of Forbul, partnered with the Hatsumomiji brewery in Yamaguchi Prefecture to develop a new sake just for the project. Named Hawkseye, its flavour is full of pineapple sweetness, but also mikan (mandarin/tangerine) acidity, and is perfect for pairing with pork.
Akaboshi’s choice to pair with Hawkseye is bacon from Kano Farm, also in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The pork comes from a breed called Shinshu Ginton, a yongenton (四元豚) breed of pig developed by crossing four other breeds. The meat is pale pink, soft and juicy, and makes a slightly sweet smoked bacon.
The crowdfunding project closed on 9 November 2019.
One thing that struck me when watching the video on the PR Times page (Japanese, subtitled in Japanese) was how Hirano emphasises that he tried to make a sake even for people who don’t like sake… I can’t remember seeing this with other drinks, although I suppose there must be some of that intent behind alcopops and other ready-mixed drinks. It’s also probably a reaction to the dramatic shrinking of the domestic market, but always leaves me feeling slightly unsettled.