IWA 5 unveils its Assemblage 4, the first of its blended sake line to come from its own brewery located in the town of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture.

When Richard Geoffroy first unveiled the IWA 5 Assemblage 3 back in 2022 – the third release in his luxury line of IWA 5 blended sake – the founder-maker had hinted broadly that the following release will be truly special. The IWA 5 Assemblage 4, when it’s made, would finally come from his own brewery instead.

Geoffroy’s earlier expressions from IWA 5’s inception was sourced from and made in collaboration with Ryuichiro Masuda of highly-regarded Toyama Prefecture-based sake brewery Masuizumi. Geoffroy, for whom champagne lovers would know was Chef de Cave at Dom Pérignon for 28 years before retiring in 2019 and pivoting to making sake instead, would blend his sakes from batches specially made for him at Masuizumi. You know, much like what you’d see in making of champagne.

Shiraiwa Brewery

Unlike earlier expressions, the IWA 5 Assemblage 4 is wholly made at Shiraiwa KK, a brewery Geoffroy purpose-built to make his own sake. Located in the town of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture – where Masuizumi is also based – Shiraiwa finally came online last year.

But unlike the brewery of Masuizumi – also known as Masuda – which is located right by Toyama Bay, Geoffrey’s Shiraiwa is situated on the other side of town at the serene foothills of Mount Tate. Perfectly juxtaposed by both land and sea, the location offers a unique sense of place. Or, as the French will call it, terroir.

But for IWA 5 founder-maker Geoffroy, it’s even more specific.

“Our kura is IWA’s heart and soul,” he shares, referring to the traditional Japanese storehouses for safekeeping commodities, and in this case, his precious stocks of sake. “IWA’s character comes through a strong sense of place. In the middle of the rice fields, the kura is the matrix where all parts merge into the birth of a singular sake: the people, the rice, the water, the equipment,” adds Geoffroy.

Richard Geoffrey

There’s also the doma. In classic Japanese architecture, the doma is a space that’s connected to the outdoor part of the house generally used to store working tools, and can also double up as a small workspace for various crafts. At Shiraiwa, the doma is positioned symbolically between the rice fields and the brewing vats. Except Shiraiwa’s doma, of course, is far fancier than most.

And here’s where the assemblage magic happens.

“State of the art brewing at our own facilities is experimental by design. It keeps pushing the synergies between assemblage and bottle maturation to achieve IWA 5’s superlative balance and complexity,” Geoffroy shares. 

Unlike most other traditional sake producers who after brewing send their brews direct to bottling and then off to market, IWA 5 needs some assembling first to help the product evolve.

Assemblage takes three weeks.

IWA 5 sake

The result? Those three weeks helps evolve the blend, moving beyond the usual typicity of Toyama sake – usually a lighter and drier style – into something rather different. When we tasted it, the new IWA 5 release is fruit-forward and mellow, and comes along with a surprisingly luscious and creamy palate. The finish too is rather sweet and lingering – and longer than usual for its style – though lacking in the acidity you find in more contemporary sakes that makes you want to reach immediately for another sip.

If you like fuller-bodied yet clean-tasting sake – particular your richer junmai – this will be your thing. And this. This will be the taste of IWA 5 moving forward.

The IWA 5 Assemblage 4 is available in Singapore through IWA’s official e-shop at  https://iwa-sake.sg at a retail price of S$208, as well as selected top restaurants and MEIDI-YA throughout Singapore.

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