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types of sake: Image

Sake Types

50% or less milling ratio

60% or less milling ratio

50% or less milling ratio

60% or less milling ratio

unknown milling ratio

unknown milling ratio

70% or less milling ratio


Sake is about 15% alcohol and it’s typically enjoyed during meals.

There are several types of sake, divided into 2 big categories: junmai and non-junmai, or aruten in sake-slang. Aruten comes from aru, short for arukōru アルコール (aruco-ru, which is the way Japanese pronounce the word alcohol) and ten, short for tenka 添加 (which means addition).

Junmai sake is made with rice, yeast, koji mold (the spore responsible for the saccharification), and water.

Non-junmai is made by adding distilled alcohol to the mix.

The milling percentage refers to how much of the rice grain is left after being polished

Useful tips for selecting sake:

  • The more the rice is milled (the smaller the percentage number is) the lighter and clearer the flavour profile will be.

  • Adding alcohol to sake doesn't raise the alcohol percentage (sake is usually diluted with water) but will help round up its flavour

  • Junmai sake tends to have better umami whilst non-junmai sake has a rounder and more elegant flavour.

Other types of sake

Tokubetsu Junmai 特別純米 & Tokubetsu Honjozo 特別本醸造

Tokubetsu in Japanese means special. There are several reasons why a sake can be special. Usually it has to do with the milling ratio or the type of rice used. 

Kimoto 生酛

One of the oldest brewing methods. Made with a specific technique that gives it a deeper and richer flavour.

Yamahai 山廃

Another older brewing method. Less labor-intense than kimoto, gives sake a similar deep and rich flavour.

Namazake 生酒

Unpasteurized sake. Namazake tends to be lively & brash.

Nigori にごり

Cloudy sake. There are several kinds of nigori depending on how the cloudyness.  Nigori sake is obtained by pressing the mash through a coarse-mesh filter. Not to be confused with unfiltered sake; the filtering process is done with activated charcoal that removes the extra colour and flavours.  

Koshu & Choki Jukuseishu 古酒 長期熟成酒 

Aged sake. It tends to have an amber colour and a deeper flavour. 

Sparkling sake  

A new addition to the sake market, it often has a lower alcohol content. 

Taruzake 樽酒

Aged or made in wood barrel (quite rare)

Genshu 原酒 

Undiluted sake. Usually stronger than regular sake, it can be up to 20% alcohol content.

Kijoshu 貴醸酒

Often referred to as fortified sake, it's made by replacing some of the water with sake during production. 

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