DesBrisay Dines

ANNE’S PICKS: Izumi of the North — a vibrant Canadian sake with hints of… wooly socks

Anne DesBrisay discovered the wonders of Canadian sake while dining at Atelier.

Anne DesBrisay

One of Atelier’s 12 courses — 13 if you factor in the amuse (a sphere of Concorde grape goo on corn bread, with corn pudding and house cured ham) — at a recent Marc Lepine dinner was a dish called “See Spot Prawn” and it came paired with a sake.

The dish was brilliant — a progressive tasting of one bite wonders, united in their focus on BC spot prawns — but it was the sake that commanded equal attention.

Made in Toronto’s Distillery District  by the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company and called Izumi of the North (Junmai Nama Cho) it tasted at first of damp wooly socks. Possibly with a hint of foot odour. Like the smell of my front hall during basketball season. Curiously not unpleasant, actually.

And then woosh… in came softer, brighter notes, like warm blankets with a bit of nutty toasted rice, juicy apples, and autumn pears in the finish. This is a once-pasteurized in the bottle sake, very vibrant tasting, and though I don’t know nothin’ ’bout rice wines, I know I liked this one immensely.

The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company offers tasting tours, if you’re interested in fitting that into a Toronto visit. You can buy the sake at the Distillery brewery. It’s also available through the LCBO and

Cost for 300 ml bottle of Izumi of the North, $12.95 (12.5% alcohol).