We certainly do, particularly with a delicious plate of fresh sushi or sashimi! When it comes to Japanese alcohol, SAKE (pronounced SA-KEH) is probably the most popular! Sake is also known as Japanese rice wine, as the English name suggests they have several types just like grape wines. You can learn about Sake on our earlier blog (Japanese Sake: The Comprehensive Guide) but let us have a quick look at some different types of Sake today.
Sake bottle, sake cup, masu filled with rice, ear of rice and polished rice There are various types of sake, but I would like to introduce 8 main types. These go under the three different categories of Sake which are Junmai, Ginjo
This means ‘pure rice’. Junmai is brewed using only rice, Koji (mold) and water. You can enjoy the taste and flavour of the rice itself. There are 4 sub types, classified by the degree to which the rice is polished down.
This has a milling standard of minimum of 50% meaning the rice is polished down at least 50% and less than 50% remaining. Some of the Daiginjo made from the rice that milled down to 35%, 23 % and even 7% remaining. This sake offers the most elegant and simple yet complex flavours. It is always served chilled.
This has a milling standard of 40% removal and 60% remaining. What makes different from Junmai Daiginjo is that it has more remaining. This sake is fruity and aromatic. Best served chilled.
Tokubetu means 'special' in Japanese. This sake is pretty much the same as Junmai Ginjo, a milling standard of 40% removal and 60% remaining. What makes different from Junmai Ginjo is that it has been brewed in a ‘special’ way. There is no specified 'special' way to brew the sake and each brewery can decide which 'special' way they use. Best when served at room temperature or warm.
This sake is as it was explained above, made just from rice, Koji (mold) and water. There is no specified milling standard so the rice can be milled down 20% and 80% remaining or 35% and 65% remaining. The sake made with smaller remaining is rich and full bodied and the sake made from less milled rice tastes light and elegant. This sake is nice when served warmed or at room temperature.
This type of sake is brewed using rice, Koji (mold) water and limited amount of ‘brewer’s alcohol’ added to lighten the sake. There are 2 sub types, classified by the degree to which the rice is polished down. (note: brewer's alcohol is a neutral distilled spirit added to sake. This is added in small quantities to help increasing the fragrance, flavour and texture of the sake).
This has the same milling standards of Junmai Daiginjo and the difference is that this is added with brewer's alcohol to lighten and clear up the sake to make it more drinkable. Aromatic and soft texture. It is best served chilled.
This has the same milling standard of Junmai Ginjo, which means 40% removal and 60% remaining, and the difference is that brewer’s alcohol is added to make the sake smooth and refreshing. It is easy to dink and often served chilled.
This type of sake is brewed using rice, Koji (mold) water and limited amount of ‘brewer’s alcohol’ added to lighten the sake. Same as Ginjo - the difference is the degree to which the rice is polished down.
This Tokubetsu (special) sake has a milling standard of 40% removal and 60% remaining, just like Tokubetus Junmai, it is brewed in a ‘special’ way and brewer’s alcohol is added to make the sake clean and soft texture. Served both warm and chilled.
This has a milling standard of 30% removal and 70% remaining and brewer’s alcohol is added. This sake is light and clean taste so easy to drink and can be enjoyed both warm and chilled.
Pouring sake into a sake glass in the masu Polishing/milling The process of polishing the rice is important process when brewing sake. The surface of rice contains nutrients such as protein. Nutrients can cause unpleasant taste in finished products therefore more surface polished, more aroma and cleaner taste it will be as a result. Junmai Daiginjo is often more expensive than the other because the rice is polished down a lot more hence more rice needed, however it does not mean it is always the best. As everyone’s taste is different, it is down to personal preference which sake you like the best. Depending on the type of sake, you can have them cold, room temperature or warmed.
Pouring sake out of Black Nanban Sake Bottle into Black Nanban Sake Cup Depending on the type of sake, you can enjoy it warm, chilled or room temperature. Sake should always be served using a special sake bottle and cup. Sake is to be sipped and enjoyed slowly to appreciate its flavour. Here at the Japanese shop, we have range of authentic sake sets for you to choose from. They are great for dinner parties or casual drinking, they will also make a great gift too! We have a ‘Sake bible’ as well, if you would like to learn more about this popular drink.
Part of our sake bottle and sake cup range, Sake Bible Hope you enjoyed this post and gained more knowledge about different types of sake. If you have a chance to visit Japan, or go to a restaurant that serves Japanese Sake, you will enjoy choosing and tasting it even more with your newly earned knowledge. KANPAI! Are you following us on Facebook and Instagram? We share our new-in or recommended products, Japanese culture, tips on how to use our products etc. Come and join us!