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Types of Japanese Sake (Nihonshu)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


Image credit: Masumi sake, Miyasaka Brewing Company, Ltd.


There are several different types of sake, and we hope this article can help you to understand four basic criteria used to place sake into the traditional categories such as daiginjo, junmai, honjozo, and so on.  The following designations are specified by Masumi sake.


Added alcohol

Sake is basically fermented, not distilled, but some types of sake do have distilled alcohol added--generally to heighten the fragrance and lighten the taste. Sake with no added alcohol is called junmai; sake with a small amount of added alcohol is called honjozo; and sake with a modest amount of added alcohol is called futsu-shu.



Rice Field (Image credit: Masumi sake, Miyasaka Brewing Company, Ltd.) 



Criteria Category
Added alcohol       Junmai (No distilled alcohol added)
Added alcohol Honjozo (A drop of distilled alcohol, less than 116 liters of alcohol per ton of rice)
Added alcohol Futsu-shu (A moderate amount of distilled alcohol)
Rice milling rate     Daiginjo (Super premium, less than 50% remaining after milling)
Rice milling rate Ginjo (Premium, between 50% and 60% remaining after milling)
Rice milling rate Other (60% or more remaining after milling)
Pasteurization Namazake (Non-pasteurized sake)
Pasteurization Namachozo (Pasteurized during bottling)
Pasteurization Namazume (Pasteurized during tank storage)
Pasteurization Other (Pasteurized twice)
Added-Water Genshu (Undiluted sake, higher alcohol content)
Added-Water Other (Alcohol content lowered by adding water)




Rice milling rate

Before making sake, the outer layers of the rice grain are milled away, revealing to a greater or lesser degree the pure starch at its core. The amount of milling directly affects the character and quality of the sake. Sake made with rice milled to less than 50% of its original mass is called daiginjo (super premium); and sake made with rice milled to between 60% and 50% is called ginjo (premium). Sake made with rice milled to 60% or more of its original mass may be called variously junmai, honjozo, futsu-shu and so on depending on how it fits into the other criteria.


L-R: Masumi Nanago, Masumi Sanka (Image credit: Masumi sake, Miyasaka Brewing Company, Ltd.) 




Sake is generally pasteurized twice, once during tank storage and once again during bottling. However, some types of sake are only pasteurized at one or the other of these periods. Sake pasteurized during bottling but not during tank storage is called namachozo, and sake pasteurized during tank storage but not during bottling is called namazume. Sake that has never pasteurized is called namazake. The less the sake is pasteurized, the fresher and more lively its flavor remains, but it must be kept refrigerated at all times to preserve freshness. If unpasteurized sake is stored at room temperature for a few days, it will turn cloudy and take on an unpleasant, sour taste.



Added water

Freshly brewed sake has a natural alcohol content of 17% to 19%. Although water is added to most types of sake before bottling to reduce the alcohol content to around 15%, some sake, known as genshu, is bottled without adding any water.



Masumi is distributed by Whistler Wine & Spirits Pte Ltd.

Website: www.whistler.com.sg. Tel: +65 6748 7820. 




Source: Masumi sake, Miyasaka Brewing Company, Ltd.


Photos: Masumi sake, Miyasaka Brewing Company, Ltd.Posted by Admin in Sake & Shochu on 16 Jun 2015


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