After tasting a bottle of the carbonated portion of my batch of sake last week, I thought it was also time to give the same treatment to a bottled of the cleared, full strength sake. This portion of the batch was left at an undiluted ~18% ABV and fined with bentonite, and then pasteurized before bottling. The results are just too boozy for me without the big complex fruity aromatics that sake needs (since there isn't much character from the rice).
Appearance – Perfectly transparent grassy yellow (higher grade - more polished - rice would yielded a clearer sake). No head or carbonation evident, but there are legs slowly dripping down the sides of the glass.
Smell – Light grainy aroma with some apparent alcohol. Not as much going on as in the carbonated sake (which suggests Bob was right in telling me that the toasty/yeasty character was from the Champagne yeast I added for carbonation). Lacks the fruity ester character of the high end sakes I've tried.
Taste – Light sweetness with a lingering warming alcohol. I wouldn't call it hot, but it is certainly boozy. Not much character, sadly it isn't too far off vodka cut with water.
Mouthfeel – Medium-light body, dead flat. There is a certain refined crispness to it that you'd never find in a beer this strong.
Drinkability & Notes – Really clean character, especially considering the high alcohol content. That said, there just isn't anything in the flavor or aroma to keep me drinking. Might be worth using in a mixed drink (maybe I'll adding herbs/spices/hops to some of the bottles...)