Sake is Japan's liquid gift to the world. Increasingly more popular globally, many of Japan's previously inactive brewers are reopening their doors and rediscovering their own historical links to this magical beverage. Most of the sake that we stock comes from small artisan producers who cling to the traditional hand-made methods such as limited or no pasturisation and using lesser polished grains which often produces sake with real character and depth of flavour unlike the super polished more commercial brands.
There are so many different styles of sake and learning all the terms is like learning another language. The styles can range from dry to sweet, fruity to savoury and have a multitude of textures that open even the most experience officienado's mind. If you're up for something different try the easy drinking red rice sake, yuzushu as an aperitif, or the lively sparkling sake.
Handy Sake terms to know thanks to our friends at Black Market Sake:
Arabashiri = ‘rough run’. This is the free run of the fresh sake liquid, captured before the actual pressing begins.
Daiginjō: The rice grain must be polished down to 50% or less of its original size.
Ginjō: The rice grain must be polished down to 60% or less of its original size.
Genmai = brown rice. Genmai-zake = brown rice sake.
Genshu = undiluted. Many sake are diluted with water after brewing to lower the alcohol content from 18-20% down to 14-16%, but genshu means that no extra water has been added.
Junmai = 100% pure rice sake without any additives such as ethyl alcohol [often known as brewers alcohol], sugars and starches. Junmai is sake made of rice, water, yeast and kōji-kin only.
Kijōshu = ‘Noble-Brew Sake’. A full-bodied sake from previous years is added to a still fermenting batch, bringing the fermentation to an early halt.
Koji-kin: Starch-breaking mould called ‘Aspergillus Oryzae’ that convert’s rice starch to sugar.
Kura = shop. When used in sake terms it means the Sake Brewery.
Kurabito = Sake Brewery workers
Kuramoto = Owner of the Sake Brewery
Koshu = aged sake
Meigara = brand or unique name of the Sake
Muroka = no charcoal filtration
Nama = unpasteurised. Namazake = unpasteurised sake
Nigori/Nigorizake = cloudy
Nihonshu = ‘Japanese Sake’ because the word Sake refers to all alcoholic beverages.
Prefecture: Locally governed regions within Japan. There are 47 prefectures in Japan.