The Sake Institute of Ontario (SIO) presented the third annual ‘Kampai Toronto’: the largest sake (pronounced sah-keh not saa-ki) festival in Canada on May 29, 2014 at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District.

Kampai Toronto Sake Festival 2014
Breweries from Japan, the United States and of course Canada, provided samples of 150 different sakes to taste. Each one of the sake grades: Futsu, Honjozo, Junmai, Ginjo and Daiginjo, and styles: Genshu, Karakuchi, Koshu, Nama, Nigori, Muroka and Tokubetsu  Izumi Sake-politain, were presented, offering a fantastic overview of the alcoholic beverage brewed from rice for connoisseurs and novices alike. The majority of sakes were very traditional but a few breweries offered a more modern take on this two thousand year old drink such as pairing it with strawberry, pear and plum. Geared towards a younger, hipper audience, there are now a number of sparkling sakes on the market. A first for me was frozen sake! DK2 made a cocktail of sake, pears in syrup lime juice with basil and mixed it in a frozen beverage machine. For guests attending this event, a variety of sushi and hors d’oeuvres made a wonderful pairing with the sake. Eastern North America’s first sake brewery made a cocktail by addingcranberry juice from Bala, Ontario and yuzu fruit from Japan. This brewery for this Japanese beverage is located in the Distillery District of Toronto where tours are available on Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays.

(Photo Credit: Lyziane Cantin)