This site will be a forum to discuss various sakes I’ve sampled and documented with my tasting notes. I’ll post my sensory findings and discuss each sake tasted. Pricing of the particular Sake sampled and described will be as current and accurate as possible. It is the hope that the reader will gain some knowledge about the particular sake being discussed and consider trying it himself. His comments can be addressed and added to this site for others to view. A basic understanding of the various sake styles will be reviewed beforehand so the reader will understand and appreciate this complex rice based drink. Following is a basic guide one may use when buying a bottle of sake at a retail liquor store, Japanese restaurant or specialty sake bar. This will be an interactive site where you, the novice or experienced sake drinker, can share your reviews of each sake sampled. Your feedback will assist both the new and experienced sake drinkers in their quest to learn, drink and appreciate this wonderful drink.
The following is a brief guide to common and specialty types of sake one would find in restaurants or liquor stores. All may be drunk warm, hot, or cold. There is NO wrong or right way! It is a personal preference.
Common Sake Varieties
Genshu; a style of sake that has not been had diluting water added. The alcohol level may be as high as 20%, but some are in the 15% range.
Gingo; Sake made from rice that has been milled (polished) until no more than 60% of the original grain remains. Typical alcohol level around15%.
Daigingo; Sake made from rice that has been milled (polished) until no more than 50% of the original grain remains. Alcohol levels in the 15% range.
Junmai; Pure sake. Only rice, water, koji and yeast are used in production. No alcohol has been added. Alcohol levels in the 15% range.
Honjozo; Sake that has a limited amount of brewer’s alcohol added. This is done to lighten flavor and body, and to bring out subtle fragrances. Alcohol 15-17%.
Nigori; Cloudy sake. Some rice lees from production can be added back or left in at the end of fermentation, possibly making it sweeter. Alcohol 15% range.
Nama; Unpasteurized sake. The flavors tend to be fresher & crisper. This type of sake must be refrigerated to prevent cloudiness and spoilage to occur.
*Use the following as aids in understanding sake descriptions and terminology.
Sake Meter Value (SMV); A measure of specific gravity of the particular sake in relation to pure water. The more unfermented sugar in a finished sake, the more dense it is. This scale describes levels from -10 (residual sugars; very sweet) to +10 (fermented sugars; very dry).
Seimaibuai ; Rice polishing rate. The degree of the polishing rate of the rice granules expressed in percent. The number is how much of the original rice grain remains.
Alcohol levels typically are in the range of 13-16 % alcohol by volume (abv).
Koji is the spore of a particular mold strain that has been added to the rice base to convert its starch into fermentable sugars.
Yeast is the organism that ferments the sugars contained and produces Sake.
Junmai and Honjozo verbiage will never be found together on a bottle. Junmai is pure sake and Honjozo has a small amount of brewer’s alcohol added.