Sake

Sake is first of all, a misnomer. In Japan the word refers to any alcoholic beverage, not just the drink called sake outside of Japan. The Japanese word for that specific drink is nihonshu. The sake that we know is a kind of rice wine, although the process of fermenting the rice is more akin to our brewing process. Sake is traditionally matured for 9 to 12 months and has a typical strength of 14 to 16% abv. There are many different types of sake, which are described and categorized in part by the amount of the rice grain which is polished away before fermentation and whether distilled alcohol is added to the finished product. Sake is generally meant to be consumed young, drank soon after its short aging period. However, one kind of sake, goshu (aged sake), is made in a way which makes it suitable for aging. Another style, taruzake, is aged in barrels made from Japanese cedar. Kuroshu is sake made from brown rice rather than the normal white rice.

Top Sake Posts:

Sake Roundup – Fukucho, Bushido, Tozai, Konteki, and Kanbara
Tasting SakeOne Imports: Hakutsuru Draft, Tanrei Junmai, Superior Junmai Ginjo, and Sho-Une Junmai Dai Ginjo
Sake Tasting and Mac Pairing with Sake Social

Review: Tyku Sake – Junmai and Junmai Ginjo (2021)

By Stephen Allison | October 27, 2021 |

It’s been seven years since we last reviewed Tyku’s (no longer Ty Ku) line of sake, and it’s high time for a refresh. Tyku, made by Nara prefecture’s Umenoyada Brewery, is one of the largest and easiest to find brands of premium-grade sake in the United States. While Umenoyada is well known for their sweet…

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Book Review: The Japanese Sake Bible

By Stephen Allison | November 14, 2020 |

Sake has been on the rise with champagne cellar master collaborations and delivery services. There is also a growing number books to build upon the foundations set by John Gauntner’s The Sake Handbook and Sake Confidential. The latest book is The Japanese Sake Bible by Brian Ashcraft. The title reminds me of Karen MacNeil’s The…

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Book Review: Sakepedia

By Christopher Null | May 23, 2020 |

In matters of sake, I tend to defer to our sake expert Stephen Allison. If Steve’s not around, author Jeff Cioletti can sub in, with his “Non-Traditional Guide to Japan’s Traditional Beverage” serving as a solid base of instruction for anyone trying to find their way through this complex category. Questions answered go far beyond…

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Review: Heavensake Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo

By Stephen Allison | October 14, 2019 |

Champagne and Sake are two beverages that you’d think wouldn’t have much in common, but Heavensake proves otherwise. Founded by Piper-Heidsieck cellar master, Regis Camus, Heavensake fuses Champagne’s art of blending, and penchant for marketing flair, with the Japanese craft of sake brewing. The result aims to solve one of sake’s biggest hurdles in the…

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How to Read a Sake Label Part 2: Honjozo and Junmai Explained

By Stephen Allison | September 9, 2019 |

In April, we featured an article decoding Ginjo to get you started on your sake journey. One takeaway is that Ginjo sake can be seen as a “new” style because the technology needed to brew it, most notably the machines that can polish rice below 70%, were not widely adopted until about forty years ago.…

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Review: Tippsy “Sake Box” Service and Shirataki Jozen Sakes

By Stephen Allison | August 20, 2019 |

We have long had online wine clubs and beer clubs, but sake? Tippsy, which launched in November 2018, is quickly positioning itself to be the US’s major online sake retailer and yes, online sake club. Is the quality of the service and sake worth the monthly cost? Drinkhacker was sent July’s box for a tasting.…

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Review: Takasago and Toko Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo Sake

By Stephen Allison | May 22, 2019 |

Late last year I went shopping at one of the USA’s only sake specialty retailers, True Sake in San Francisco. When I mentioned that my favorite sake is Takasago’s Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo I was told some unpleasant news: 2018’s batch would be the last one. Devastated, I emailed importer Vine Connections looking for answers.…

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How to Read a Sake Label, Part 1: Ginjo Explained

By Stephen Allison | April 7, 2019 |

Sake is a captivating beverage. For me, part of its allure lies in its diversity of style: sake can taste rich and savory or delicate and fruity, can be served chilled or piping hot, and is equally at home in a crystal wine glass or an unassuming ceramic tumbler. It can even be aged (called…

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Review: Tedorigawa Iki na Onna “Lady Luck” Daiginjo Sake

By Stephen Allison | February 5, 2019 |

The Tedorigawa brand was introduced to me through the documentary The Birth of Sake. The film follows the brewery through a difficult six-month brewing season, which illustrates the skill and dedication required to brew sake in the traditional manner. The process is so demanding that brewers must live at the brewery communal style, removed from all…

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Review: Nanbu Bijin “Southern Beauty” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake

By Stephen Allison | January 27, 2019 |

“Tokubetsu,” which translates to “special selection,” is a vague term much like “reserve” in the wine world. More often than not it refers to a sake with non-ginjo attributes but polished to a ginjo level. Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Consider this: Fruity aromas such as honeydew melon define ginjo styles, yet these aromas…

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