Seilan is one of the most unique tipples in Japan, making sunsets appear like magic in “Blue Samurai” drinks.

Things have been turning blue in Japan recently, ever since butterfly pea appeared on the scene back in 2016. Known for its striking blue hue, butterfly pea first changed the appearance of jam and tea, and now it’s transforming the sake world, with a new release called Seilan.

Billed as a “natural blue Japanese sake“, Seilan is actually a high grade of sake known as ginjo, which uses rice polished to at least 60 percent of the grain. Produced by Saga Prefecture’s Sato Shuzo, Seilan uses 60-percent polished rice, and it’s not just any rice — it’s locally sourced Yamada Nishiki, a variety widely considered the best for sake-making due to its larger grain and soft centre, which allows it to absorb water more readily.

The addition of butterfly pea to this premium sake makes it incredibly unique, as it doesn’t just imbue the sake with a brilliant blue hue — it has the ability to change colour with the addition of citrus, making it a perfect sake to mix with cocktails.

▼ Seilan is written as Seiran (青藍) in Japanese, which translates to “Pure Indigo

We picked up a bottle to try, and decided to pour it into a clear sake cup to admire its unusual appearance. In the bottle it was a beautiful indigo — a deep blue bordering on purple — but when we poured it into the cup, it took on more of a purply hue.

The most intriguing aspect of this sake is the fact that it can change colour, so we tipped in a tiny bit of lemon juice, and the purple instantly lightened.

▼ Adding a smidgeon more citrus pushed it all the way into the pink spectrum.

The difference in hue is due to the fact that butterfly pea changes colour when there’s a change in the pH level. So the more citrus you add, the more dramatic the colour change.

Being tasteless and odourless, butterfly pea doesn’t interfere with the taste of the sake itself, so when we took a sip of the unadulterated Seilan we were pleasantly surprised to find it was light with fruity notes and a smooth, clean finish common to premium sake.

Taking a sip of the sake with a twist of citrus was equally surprising. The addition of lemon juice made it taste like a totally different beverage, dulling the bouquet and eliminating the alcoholic taste almost entirely.

The makers of Seilan do say that adding a little bit of citrus transforms this into a very drinkable tipple so that even those who don’t usually like the taste of alcohol will like the flavour. They’re certainly not wrong, as the citrus makes it so easy to drink you could be fooled into thinking you’re not drinking alcohol at all and finish the entire bottle in one sitting.

The change in flavour and hue made us curious to try the sake in a series of cocktails recommended by Seilan’s makers, so we got out a glass and kicked things off with a Blue Samurai Mojito. All you need to make this cocktail is a good amount of ice, a couple of lime slices and a few sprigs of fresh mint.

▼ Add the blue sake…

▼ And top it up with sparkling soda water and you’re done!

The contrasting colours of green and blue make for a beautiful-looking beverage, and the flavour of this was fantastic – much lighter than a traditional rum mojito, and incredibly refreshing. In fact, it was so good we were just about to make ourselves another one when we realised there was another recommended cocktail to try.

The Blue Samurai Rock is perhaps even easier to make than the mojito, with the only ingredients being lemon juice, one large ice cube for the “rock” and a slice of lemon for garnish.

▼ In goes the Seilan…

And then a dash of lemon juice to create a striking gradation of colour resembling a beautiful sunset. Sipping this made us feel as if we were on holiday, and the slight tartness of the chilled drink was wonderfully refreshing and perfect for a hot summer evening.

▼ Take a look at the colour-changing cocktails in this video below. ASMR fans might want to turn up the sound.

Once you start making cocktails, there’s no end to the creative combinations you can come up with! Seilan even suggest adding cold green tea to the mix for a very Japanese-style beverage.

Seilan can be purchased from Village Vanguard, where it retails for 2,190 yen for a 500-millilitre (16.9-ounce) bottle. It can also be purchased from Amazon Japan, although it’s currently out of stock there at the moment.

Seilan is definitely a must-try product, not only for the fact that it’s a quality sake, but for the fact that it’s fun to drink and a showstopper to use in cocktails as well.

Given its uniqueness, we’ve got our fingers crossed for Seilan to one day become a new KitKat flavour alongside these yoghurt sake KitKats. Because one thing we haven’t seen yet is a Japanese KitKat that changes colour!

Photos © SoraNews24
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