25 Oct 2014

What different types are there?

Like wine, one sake can have an entirely different taste than the next. Add that some sakes are drunk cold, while others hot, and you can easily get confused by a sake menu or a liquor shop interior.
However, there are a few terms you can look out for that will give you an idea of what you're about to drink.

Junmaishu
First, you should remember there are basically two types of sake: one that is made of only rice, koji (read more about koji), and water, and one that has added alcohol. The pure type can use the label 'junmaishu' (meaning as much as 'pure rice sake').   

Rice Polishing
Then, we can make a distinction in the amount of polishing the rice used for the sake has undergone. To make white rice out of brown rice, all you have to do is take off the outer skin. But, if you polish it even more after that, you end up with just the cores of the rice grains, which happens to be the part of the grain where the starch is most concentrated and thus tastes better. This means of course, that the more you polish, the more useless scraps of rice you have, resulting in delicious, but expensive sake.
There are two terms that indicate how much polished the rice is: Ginjō, with 60% or less of the original rice weight remaining, or Daiginjō, with under 50% of its original weight remaining.

So, with a combination of these terms on the bottle, you can have an idea of the purity of the drink before you. What can you make of the next bottles?
The Different Types of Sake
And how about this one?

The Different Types of Sake
The answers can be found at the bottom of this page.

Plan a Trip to Japan

Request a tailor-made tour from our community of guides.
Guides will create the best plan for you, according to your preferences.

Request a Custom Tour     Find a Guide