How we select Sake Breweries
Diverse Flavours selects Sake breweries based on:
For Toji (expert brewers) to create great sake, a few key elements are essential:
Shuzo Kotekimai rices are ideal for brewing sake. Yamadanishiki is the “king” of sake rice.
Koji mold enzymes convert rice starch to sugar, which is food for the kobo (sake yeast).
Water for sake brewing is sourced from natural springs.
There are six top premium sake grades which are known as “Tokutei Meishoshu” meaning “Special Designation Sake”.
|Premium Tokutei Meishoshu Sake
The top four grades are collectively known as “GINJO”, characterised by increasing quality, price and complexity and brewed by expert brewers with vast knowledge and experience. Ginjo grades use more highly milled (polished) rice, brewed at lower temperatures, longer fermentation and labour intensive methods of production.
|Generally light, complex and fragrant. Small amount of pure distilled alcohol is added.||Less than 50% of polished rice left (seimai-buai).|
|Subclass of Daiginjo, as only rice water and koji (steamed rice) are used.||Less than 50% of polished rice left (seimai-buai).|
|Light and delicate flavour, often fruity/flowery touches. Small amount of pure distilled alcohol is added.||60% of polished rice left (seimai-buai).|
|Subclass of Ginjo-Shu, as only rice, water and koji are used.||60% of polished rice left.|
|Brewed using a very small amount of pure distilled alcohol. Lighter and often more fragrant than Junmai-Shu. Includes Tokubetsu HONJOZO (特別本醸造酒), or “SPECIAL” Honjozo, a vague definition indicating Honjozo made with special rice or more highly milled rice.||70% of polished rice left.|
|Made with nothing but rice, water and koji mold. Usually a bit fuller than other types, often with a good acidity. Includes Tokubetsu Junmai (特別純米酒).|
|Non-premium normal/table sake|
|Pure, distilled alcohol is added in copious amounts to increase yields.||There are no special milling (polishing) requirements, and the rice used is typically of lower grades or normal table rice.|
The unique character of each sake’s aroma is the result of different production methods and ingredients. These can be classified into four types, based on aroma and flavour:
|Full-bodied||Features a grainy scent, or an aroma conveying umami, like dairy products||Features sweetness, acidity, a pleasant bitterness, and a well-rounded richness||Rich taste, moderate aroma: Umami, Complex, Simple, Light|
|Light & Smooth||Features a mild and moderate aroma||Has a refreshing taste and a smooth feeling in the mouth||Delicate taste, moderate aroma: Fresh, Simple, Light|
|Fruity||Features gorgeous aromas of fruit or flowers, and has a sense of clarity||Has moderate sweetness and roundness, balanced with a refreshing acidity||Delicate taste, complex aroma: Fresh, Simple, Complex, “Gorgeous”|
|Matured||Features strong and complex aromas, like spices or dried fruit||Thick sweetness, balanced with an acidity mellowed by maturation||Rich taste, complex aroma: Umami, Complex, “Gorgeous”|
How to understand if a Sake is sweet or dry
|NIHONSHU-DO||A unique measure to indicate the specific gravity of sake||If the sake at 15 degrees Celsius weighs the same as water at 4 degrees its Nihonshu-do is 0 (zero).
A lighter specific gravity is indicated by a + (plus), a heavier one is indicated by a – (minus).
Heavier sake contains more SUGAR thus – (minus) sake is sweet, + (plus) sake is dry.
|SAN-DO||Acidity||Acidity makes sake taste strong, which masks its sweetness. This element in sake’s flavour is as important as nihonshu-do.|
|Amino Acid Value||Sake with more amino acids tastes richer, with less amino acids tastes lighter.|
It should be noted that the alcohol content will change the specific gravity, so alcohol content must be noted. Further, the ACID content will mask the sweetness, which indicates the acidity or the dryness.
The temperature at which sake is served depends on its style.