This page will help you to understand the four basic criteria used to place sake into traditional categories such as daiginjo, junmai, honjozo, and so on. The chart below shows how our sake fits into these categories.
No distilled alcohol added.
A drop of distilled alcohol
(less than 116 liters of alcohol per ton
A moderate amount of distilled alcoho
117 and 280 liters of alcohol per ton of rice).
|Rice milling rate
(% remaining after milling)
Less than 50%
Between 50% and 60%
60% or more
Pasteurized during tank storage
sake (higher alcohol content)
Alcohol content lowered
by adding water
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 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.
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.
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.