Traditional Japanese sake (Rice wine) is said to have a very delicate flavor difference. The reason for this comes from the recipe and raw materials used on Sake brewery. This article will explain what kind of raw materials are used for sake and How is Japanese Sake made based on interview with Mr. Azuma, the Sake Meister of Tokyo famous Japanese Sake bar “KURAND SAKE MARKET”. You can enjoy Japanese Sake more at the best Sake bars in Japan during your trip!

How is Japanese Sake made?

How is Japanese Sake made: Basic Recipes and Content

Japanese Sake or sometimes called “Rice wine” is a type of brewed alcohol and is a relative to wine.

The content used are very simple, “rice”, “water”, and “koji”. “Koji” refers to bacteria added to ferment the rice. A simple Sake recipe starts with “rice” being generously scraped only leaving the center part. Then the “rice” is topped with “koji” and mixed with “water” to ferment. Lastly, after filtering the “rice” after fermentation, you have sake.

How is Japanese Sake made: “Rice”, The Key Influencer to the Flavor

Based on the location’s climate where the rice is produced, the taste and flavor of the sake will differ.

The most well-known rice used for sake are “Yamada Nishiki” and “Gohyaku Mangoku”. These rice are different from typical edible rice and is a special rice called sake rice. It is bigger than typical rice and the more you go to the center of the rice, the more flavor there is. The key point of sake brewing is to bring out the flavor of the rice.

How is Japanese Sake made: “Water”, The Life of Sake

Another interesting part of Japanese sake is the taste and flavor changes depending on the water used.

For example, the water in Nada city, Hyogo prefecture contains plenty of minerals causing the sake made to have a clear and powerful flavor profile, and resulting it to be called “Male Sake (Otoko Sake)”. On the other hand, the water in Fushimi city, Kyoto prefecture is soft water coming from the foot of the mountains causing the sake made to have a rounded and gentle flavor profile, and resulting it to be called “Female Sake (Onna Sake)”.

For Niigata prefecture’s sake, the water used is even softer than Kyoto’s resulting in an even softer and refreshing aftertaste, and it is a key point for producing this flavor profile.

Recipe Differences Between Japanese Sake Brewery

Even if the brewery uses the same rice and water, how is Japanese Sake made is greatly differ based on the recipe the taste and flavor can . These differences exist between all types of breweries and Japanese sake producers. Especially in areas where there are many famous sake breweries, large and small, they must survive in the highly competitive world through these recipe differences.

Delicious rice, beautiful water and the trained skill of a craftsmen, all make up the Japanese spirit packed sake. Try comparing the tastes of the sake by region, north to south, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the rich flavor variations that you can enjoy.

Where can we enjoy Japanese Sake by various Sake brewery in Japan

When traveling to Japan, we strongly recommend to try various breweries’ Sake because only major breweries can distribute Sake outside Japan.

In Japan, we actually have so many small but shining and aspiring breweries and local people become preferring Japanese Sake made at that kind of small breweries now. You can meet surprising Sake having unique taste and flavor like fruit, chocolate, cheese etc in Japan.

If you want to try small breweries’ Sake in Japan, we recommend “KURAND SAKE MARKET” in Tokyo. This one of the hottest Sake bar is preparing 100 kinds of small breweries’ Sake with “All you can drink plan” and no time limit. We think this Sake bar becomes to be must visit place in Tokyo for travelers.

And if you want to directly look how is Japanese Sake made, you can join the tour to Japanese Sake brewery. Some breweries are providing this kind of tour then you can visit inside brewery and learn detailed process to brew Japanese Sake. You may drink very fresh Sake. Even for locals, fresh Sake is very rare then this must be one of the highlight of your travel.

We are looking forward you to come to Japan and enjoy Japanese sake & culture! Have a good trip!

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