NIPPONIA No. 44 March 15, 2008


Special Featuresp_star.gifHere’s to Japanese sake!

Different Sake for Different Folks

Japanese sake offers a variety of flavors to suit individual tastes. Flavor depends a great deal on how much the rice was milled, when the sake was bottled, and how long it was matured. The photos on this page show rice milled at Shinkame Brewery, and a sampling of its products.

Polishing—how much?


The first step in making sake is to polish (mill) the rice, to remove the protein and fatty substances in the outer part of what started out as brown rice. Those substances would give the sake a rough, unrefined taste if not removed. The amount of grain remaining determines the final taste of the sake quite a bit.

1: Brown rice
2: Rice with 40% milled off, to give a seimai buai (milling rate) of 60%
3: Rice with a milling rate of 50%, used to make ginjo-shu sake
4: Rice with a milling rate of 40%, used to make daiginjo-shu sake

The taste—which one for you?


1. Hikomago Junmai Daiginjo: To make this type of sake, Shinkame Brewery milled the rice until 40% of the original grain was left. The sake was stored in a cool place to mature for three years, to give it a refreshing taste.

2. Hikomago Junmai Sei-shu: This junmai-shu sake was aged for three years. It has a pleasantly strong flavor of rice. The rice was milled until 60% of the grain remained.

3. Junmai Joso Nakagumi: The brewery did not forcefully press this sake. The bags of mash were laid on top of each other (see photo 19), and only what poured and dripped out was bottled. The yeast is still alive.

4. Junmai Kassei Nigori-zake: Bottled while the fermentation process was still in progress. A slightly sweet, champagne-like sake with a carbonated fizz.

5. Taiko-shu 57 Nen: Aged for 25 years. Has a rich, complex taste.


Color varies, too.
Left: Pure, regular sake is almost transparent.
Middle: Aged sake with a yellowish tint.
Right: An active (still fermenting) cloudy white sake.