The story of the Shamrock : the Irish trinity vs. the Japanese trinity

photo of shamrock and two glasses on a bed of clover

Shamrock is the Irish name for shamrock, said to come from the ancient Gaelic "seamrog" meaning "little three-leaved plant". A symbol readily associated with St. Patrick's Day. It's also the name that Tanaka Shuzo brewery has decided to give to one of its special cuvées: Shamrock Junmai Genshu. The link between sake and St. Patrick's Day is not obvious, but the trinity symbolism evoked by this little three-leaf plant is anything but uninteresting !

The trinity according to Saint Patrick
According to one of the most famous legends associated with him, St. Patrick had the idea of using a three-leaf clover to explain to the Irish people the concept of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this way, he illustrated how the three representatives of the Trinity can be distinct yet part of the same divine entity.

Stained glass window depicting Saint Patrick

Today, the shamrock symbol is widely used to evoke luck and joy, and many people consider it a good luck charm.

Who was Saint Patrick ?
Born Maewyn Succat in Scotland around 385, Saint Patrick was captured by pirates at the age of 16 and sold into slavery to an Irish druid. A divine vision led him to flee to Great Britain in 409, where he became a priest. He then studied in Auxerre, France, alongside Saint-Germain, who recommended him to Pope Celestine 1st. The latter then asked him to evangelize Ireland, which was polytheistic at the time. It is assumed that Saint Patrick died on March 17, the date on which his feast day is celebrated. A celebration that spread around the world via the Irish diaspora, and which gradually evolved into a convivial and joyous occasion, regardless of one's origins.

Sanpo yoshi" according to Mr. Morikawa
We owe this Shamrock sake to Mr. Morikawa, the toji of the Tanaka Shuzo brewery in Miyagi. His passion and pride are evident in this exclusive cuvée, which features the three-leaf clover symbol on its label.

 Photo M Morikawa at the brewery

This is a clear reference to "Sanpo Yoshi", a Japanese concept that characterizes a balanced approach to human and social relationships. Sanpo Yoshi literally translates as "the three benefits" and refers to the reciprocal advantages that can be derived by the parties involved in an interaction: the giver, the receiver and the observer. The three entities essential to the life of Japanese sake are: the person who makes the sake, the person who sells it, and the person who drinks it !

Junmai Genshu, Tanaka Shuzo, Miyagi
This sake is unique in that it has been aged at low temperature for 2 years. It's a Junmai Genshu, meaning that no alcohol has been added and no reduction with water after fermentation. It is therefore quite powerful, with 17.5% alcohol. Shamrock is produced from a local rice, Miyagi's Sasanishiki.

Photo of a bottle of Shamrock during a tasting


On tasting, the nose is clear and elegant, evoking fresh citrus notes. On the palate, the attack is unctuous, tinged with cocoa aromas. It then becomes more refined, taking up the orange notes, while retaining a fine amplitude and roundness. The finish is precise, kire finish, clean and crisp. It leaves a fresh impression on the palate.

In terms of pairing, Shamrock is a sake that's easy to pair, as an aperitif or with a meal, with a wide variety of dishes. It can be enjoyed at different temperatures, from chilled to warm. Our recommendation: try it chilled, with a nice cured ham.

If you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day this weekend, take this bottle and this story with you. The shamrock will be a source of happiness and sharing. Sláinte! Cheers! Kampaï !