Types of sake

Jummai-shu is made from rice alone (reduced to 70% of its original size). Honjozo-shu contains less than 120 L of raw alcohol per ton of white rice

Table 8.1 Contributors to the flavour of sake.


Typical level (mg L 1)



Isoamyl alcohol






Ethyl acetate


Ethyl caproate


Isoamyl acetate


Succinic acid


Malic acid


Citric acid


Acetic acid


Lactic acid


(reduced to 70% of its original size) and the alcohol must be added to the moromi. No glucose is allowed. Ginjo-shu is a special, high-quality variant of Jummai-shu, with the rice reduced to 60% of its original size, no alcohol addition, and very low temperature (10°C) fermentation.

Genshu is undiluted sake (20% ABV) that is served on ice. Taru-zake is cask sake aged in Japanese cypress from the Yoshino region of the Nara prefecture, developing colour and flavour from this wood. Ki-ippon sake is one produced entirely in a single area and not blended with sake originating in other regions. These days it is a name that indicates that the sake is made in a single brewery and that sake must be jummai-shu.

Koshu means old sake, aged for 2-3 years before bottling. As such it contrasts with other sakes that are matured for less than a year and should be drunk young. Nigori-zake has a white and cloudy appearance on account of the use of sacks that do not remove all the particles. Kijo-shu is made by replacing half of the brewing water with sake. Therefore, it is very heavy and sweet (the alcohol suppressing yeast action) and it tends to be used as an aperitif.

Then there are wine-type sakes - rice wine - made with wine yeasts and reaching 13% ABV. Akai-sake is red and made with red koji instead of the customary yellow. As such it is in the realm of gimmick, rather like the inclusion of gold flakes in certain products.

Dry sake is called karakuchi, sweet sake amakuchi.

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