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Gekkeikan Black & Gold Sake

Round black bottle with gold lettering

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Gekkeikan Black & Gold Sake


About Black & Gold Sake

While I’ve sampled a few sakes over the years (Emmeline and I even shared a sake flight the last time we had sushi), I’ve never actually owned a bottle myself. I was always too overwhelmed by the number of brands and styles. Thankfully, I came out of the holiday season with this bottle of Gekkeikan Black & Gold Sake, so I don’t have to stress anymore, and can finally start my sake journey.

The Gekkeikan brand can be traced all the way back to 1637, when Jiemon Okura first established a sake brewery in Fushima, a town near Kyoto. The Okura family continued to operate the brewery and expand the brand until it was officially renamed Gekkeikan in 1987. In order to keep up with international demand for sake, the Gekkeikan Sake (USA) brewing facility was built in Folsom, California in 1989.

Black & Gold is a sake produced in this brewery. It’s a blend of two other California-made sakes, Traditional and Haiku Sake. Since only two ingredients, rice and water, are used in both of the sakes, Black & Gold is classified as a junmai sake.

Bottle Specs

❖ Spirit: Junmai Sake

Distillery: Produced and Bottled by Gekkeikan Sake (USA) in Folsom, CA

❖ ABV: 15.6 % (31.2 Proof)

❖ Low Price

Tasting Notes


Color: Slight Golden Hue

❖ Nose: Fruit, Melon

Taste: Leans towards the dry side, but still has some fruity sweetness. The fermented rice flavor is stronger when chilled, and gets sweeter as it warms up.

Finish: Long, Melon

slightly gold liquid in a glencairn glass


light green liquid in a glass filled with ice and garnished with a lime wedge

Cucumber Shisojito

2 oz Sake

1 oz Vodka

1 Shiso Leaf (stem removed)

Small handful of diced cucumber

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Soda Water

❖ Muddle a small handful of diced cucumber and shiso leaf

❖ Add sake, vodka, lime juice and simple syrup, and dry shake

❖ Rough strain into a glass filled with ice and diced cucumbers, top with soda water, and garnish with a lime wedge

Despite dragging my feet on actually buying a bottle of sake, I still have a decent amount of sake cocktails I want to try. This recipe for a Cucumber Shisojito comes from a amazing collection of sake cocktails from Jake Lee at Tipsy Sake. He recommends a different junmai sake for this particular recipe, but I was still interested in seeing how the dry and fruity notes of Black & Gold would work with cucumber.

This cocktail is exceptionally light and refreshing. All of the ingredients balance well, with cucumber being the most prominent. Although it’s inspired by a mojito, the flavor is closer to a cucumber limeade, and the alcohol content is much less noticeable. The sake flavor grows stronger as the cocktail warms, and the fruit notes contrast nicely with the vegetal cucumber flavor.

Bottom Line


While my limited sake experience might prevent me from thoroughly critiquing Gekkeiken Black & Gold Sake, I can confidently say I would buy another bottle. While the flavor might not be incredibly complex, I still enjoyed the contrast between the sweet melon and dry fermented rice notes. I think I prefer the slightly drier flavor of the chilled Black & Gold, but I would still happily drink it at room temperature.

Normally, I wouldn’t be this enthusiastic about the lack of complexity of Black & Gold, but the affordability is a big factor. For a very reasonable price, you can experience common sake flavors that are enjoyable on their own, or mixed in cocktails. I’m happy to have a point of reference for the next Gekkeiken or junmai sake bottle I pick up.

As always, drink responsibly.

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