This Small Santa Fe Importer Brings Hard-to-Find Sake Stateside
In 1989, friends Deborah Fleig and Linda Tetrault started running the store at Ten Thousand Waves, a spa-centric sanctuary in Santa Fe inspired by the traditional hot spring resorts found in the Japanese countryside. They traveled frequently to Asia on regular buying trips, immersing themselves in the nuances of its culture and acquiring a taste for its food and drink—especially sake. To learn more about the fermented rice beverage, they enrolled in classes led by sake educator and expert John Gaunter, toured breweries in Tokyo, and in 2011 founded Floating World Artisan Sake Imports to bring Japan’s finest brews stateside.
Their knowledge shines through the company’s wide-ranging website catalogue, which includes anecdote-filled descriptions and endearing personal photographs of each brewery. Highlights include the Akishika Okarakuchi variety, made by just five people at a tiny, 134-year-old establishment nestled in the mountains between Kyoto and Osaka, and sake from Mukai, a label run by one of the few female tōji (master brewers) working in the industry today. Libations for more adventurous palettes include Kaze no Mori (“Wind of the Woods”), a floral, fruity, unfiltered sake with a cult following, and a dry, earthy sake from Mutemuka, a brewery in Kochi Prefecture, that’s aged for six months and has a distinctively nutty aftertaste that smacks of cacao and hazelnut. We suggest picking up several bottles from the importer’s list of distributors before holing up for the holidays.