Thanks to the boutiquejapan.com website for creating a great list of all the different types of Sake. I couldn't think of anything to write this week only because as you know I only write about what I know from my own personal Sake brewing experience, but I wanted to give you guys something. This is the perfect area of the greenlysake website for this information, If you are ever going to visit Japan check out boutiquejapan.com first for your "What to do while in Japan" research. Enjoy! -Rob
As mentioned earlier, junmai refers to pure rice (純米) (non-additive) sake. Additionally, the junmaiclassification means that the rice used has been polished to at least 70 percent. While it’s hard to over-generalize, junmai sake tends to have a rich full body with an intense, slightly acidic flavor.
This type of sake can be particularly nice when served warm or at room temperature.
Honjozo (本醸造) also uses rice that has been polished to at least 70 percent (as with junmai). However, honjozo, by definition, contains a small amount of distilled brewers alcohol, which is added to smooth out the flavor and aroma of the sake. Honjozo sakes are often light and easy to drink, and can be enjoyed both warm or chilled.
Ginjo and Junmai Ginjo
Ginjo (吟醸) is premium sake that uses rice that has been polished to at least 60 percent. It is brewed using special yeast and fermentation techniques. The result is often a light, fruity, and complex flavor that is usually quite fragrant. It’s easy to drink and often (though certainly not as a rule) served chilled.
Junmai ginjo is simply ginjo sake that also fits the “pure rice” (no additives) definition.
Daiginjo and Junmai Daiginjo
Daiginjo (大吟醸) is super premium sake (hence the “dai,” or “big”) and is regarded by many as the pinnacle of the brewer’s art. It requires precise brewing methods and uses rice that has been polished all the way down to at least 50 percent. Daiginjo sakes are often relatively pricey and are usually served chilled to bring out their nice light, complex flavors and aromas.
Junmai daiginjo is simply daiginjo sake that also fits the “pure rice” (no additives) definition.
Futsushu (普通種) is sometimes referred to as table sake. The rice has barely been polished (somewhere between 70 and 93 percent), and — while we’re definitely not qualified to be sake snobs — is the only stuff we would probably recommend staying away from. Surprisingly, you can get really good-quality sake for very reasonable prices, so unless you’re looking for a bad hangover (and not-so-special flavor), stay away from futsushu.
Although sake is not generally aged like wine, it’s usually allowed to mature for around six months or more while the flavors mellow out. However, shiboritate (しぼりたて) sake goes directly from the presses into the bottles and out to market. (People generally either love it or hate it.) Shiboritate sake tends to be wild and fruity, and some drinkers even liken it to white wine.
Most sake is pasteurized twice: once just after brewing, and once more before shipping. Nama-zake (生酒) is unique in that it is unpasteurized, and as such it has to be refrigerated to be kept fresh. While it of course also depends on other factors, it often has a fresh, fruity flavor with a sweet aroma.
Nigori (濁り) sake is cloudy white and coarsely filtered with very small bits of rice floating around in it. It’s usually sweet and creamy, and can range from silky smooth to thick and chunky. This type of sake seems to be far more popular in Japanese restaurants outside of Japan than in Japan.
Jizake (地酒) means “local sake” and is a great word to keep in mind when traveling to different regions of Japan. Sake is brewed throughout the country, and good jizake usually goes extremely well with each region’s local cuisine — and since it’s local, it’s also usually fresh and often nicely priced.