SAKE Taster’s Cup and Sake Barrel
Popular Japan Sake Breweries Map
What is Sake?
Sake is a rice-based alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin.
This beverage is called sake in English, but in Japanese, sake (酒) or o-sake (お酒) refers
to alcoholic drinks in general.
The Japanese term for this specific beverage is Nihonshu (日本酒), meaning "Japanese
Through in English it is referred to as “Rice Wine” , Sake is made through a brewing
process more like that of beer.
Undiluted sake is 18–20% alcohol, although this is often lowered to around 15% by
diluting the sake with water prior to bottling.
Generally, saké should be consumed within about one year from the date the brewery releases
it. It should be consumed within 2 weeks after opening and should be stored in refrigerator.
History of Sake
The Yayoi Era (B.C.300 - A.D.300)
It is well known that the first Japanese saké was created in the Western part of Japan in
the Yayoi Era when the hunting society changed to an agrarian society.
At the time, sake was made using salive in lieu of the modern fermentation process.
Not everyone could make the chewed saké Women known as Miko who serve god were
the only ones qualified to make the saké intended for honoring the gods.
The Nara Era (A.D.710 - A.D.794)
The technique for saké making was developed by the Imperial Court (Government) in
the Nara Era. Around this time, instead of chewing the rice, people started to use Koji
(rice malt) that was brought from China for the brewing of saké.
The Heian to Kamakura Era (A.D.794 - A.D.1192)
In the Heian Era, saké making was done not only by the government, but also by the
temples. The production of saké had been increased, but it was used mostly for festivals.
The Muromachi to Azuchi-Momoyama Era (A.D.1573 - A.D.1600)
Saké began to be made region-specific at about the same time that regional foods
began to emerge.
The Edo Era (A.D.1603 - A.D.1867)
In the Edo era, saké production had been widely expanded and the beverage was now
available to ordinary people. There were more than 27,000 Sakagura (Breweries) during
the Edo Era (currently there are fewer than 1,500 breweries).
The Meiji Era to the beginning of the Showa Era (A.D.1869 - A.D.1950)
From the Meiji Era, Japanese liquor taxes were assessed or imposed on saké. During this
same time the very famous brewery competitions involving saké making techniques had
begun. These competitions helped to further improve the saké making techniques.
The Present (A.D.1950 -)
The system of Japanese saké development was reformed in 1989. These new changes in
regulations led to the creation of many great and unique saké's. The new saké's created
a boom in the industry.
Sake has gaining a position as dinner alcohol in foreign countries with the increasing
popularity of sushi culture.
Types of Sake
*JUNMAI TOKUBETSU JUNMAI GINJO JUNMAI DAI
Pure rice sake. JUNMAI Brewed with GINJO
Nothing is used Needs to be made labor-intensive Even more
except rice, with rice milled to steps, using painstaking
water, yeast and 60% and/or have highly polished brewing process
koji. Tends to be something else rice and than Junmai
full bodied with "special" about it, fermented at Ginjo, which
stronger flavor such as the brand colder results in sake
than of other of rice and temperatures for that is even
categories. brewing method. longer periods of lighter, more
time. Light, fruity, fragrant and
refined. fruity than typical
*There is no
the polishing rate
HONJOZO TOKUBETSU GINJO DAI GINJO
Made with rice, HONJOZO Saké to which a Brewed with very
water, koji and a Tokubetsu small amount of highly polished
very small Honjozo needs to distilled alcohol rice and even
amount of pure be made with rice has been added, more precise and
distilled alcohol milled to 60%, it tastes light & labor-intensive
("brewers' and/or have clear. methods. The
alcohol") to help something else pinnacle of the
extract flavor and "special" about it, brewers' art.
aroma. Light, such as the brand Generally light,
mildly fragrant of rice and complex and
easy to drink. method. Small quite fragrant.
amount of pure
distilled alcohol is
NIGORI - Nigorizaké is made from moromi that is filtered through rough cloth right before
fermentation is complete. In nigori, the sweetness of the rice is easily tasted. Some nigoris are
of the sparkling variety because when nigori is done pre-fermenting, the carbonation remains.
GENSHU - Genshu is raw, undiluted saké It is moromi that is heated, filtered, and has no added
water. It is then bottled immediately. Genshu has an alcohol content of 20-22%. Most of the
saké to hit the consumer market is not genshu. The saké has water added reducing the actual
content to 15-16%.
NAMA - Namazaké has water added but is not pasteurized (heated) as is most of the saké that
makes its way to market. This is why Namazaké tastes so fresh. It is!!
NAMA GENSHU - This saké has no water added, and it is not pasteurized. It is fresh, undiluted
NAMA CHOZO - The distinguishing characteristic in its development is that nama chozo saké
does not go through both of the heating processes (pasteurizations) used to produce regular
saké. The first heating process, which occurs right before the storage process, is omitted.
NAMAZUME - This saké is the polar opposite of the Nama chozo, because it goes through the
first heating prior to the storage process but does not undergo a second heating prior to
SHIN-SHU - This is the first saké of the year, once fermenting and bottling are complete.
HIYAOROSHI - This is a season-limited saké. It is basically Shin-shu that is stored and not
presented until autumn. Autumn is often considered prime saké season.
KIMOTO - Normally saké brewers introduce a lactic acid into the fermentation process for
cultivating yeast. This is a new custom since the early 1900's. Kimoto is an original saké and
lactic acid is not added to it. Kimoto is allowed to naturally develop lactic acid on its own. This
process takes longer than the newer way, and the taste of Kimoto becomes strong as a result.
YAMAHAI - Yamahai is made in the same way as Kimoto, except that in brewing Yamahai the
steaming rice is NOT pulverized with a stick to facilitate dissolving. Yamahai has Koji added to
dissolve the rice. Similar to Kimoto, Yamahai has the peculiar taste and Umami (flavor) of
KOSHU - This is an aged saké. There is no regulation concerning the exact time which must
elapse before it will be known as 'Koshu' officially. But it is well known that if the saké has been
aged more than 3 years, it qualifies to be called 'Koshu'
Information Source: New York Mutual Trading, Inc. 6
Top Sake with Kurtis Wells
Sunday, August 21st at 3pm at Toranoko,
Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo (720 ml)
Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai (720 ml)
Hideyoshi Namacho Honjozo (300ml)
Ichishima Silk Delux Junmai (500 ml)
Ichishima Tokubetsu Honjozo (720 ml)
Manabito Ginjo (720 ml)
Manabito Kimoto Junmai Ginjo (720 ml)
Minato Harbor Tsuchizaki Yamahai, Nama Genshu (720ml)
Beverage Director & Mixologist
@ Aburiya Toranoko Sushi Bar & Izakaya
Born and raised in L.A., Kurtis Wells was fortunate to travel the world in his early life.
His travels took him to Japan where he fell in love with the Japanese culture. He has
been a passionate bartender in the Los Angeles dining scene for the past 15 years
working at bars/restaurants like Santa Monica's Monsoon Café, Vermont in Los Feliz
and Hatfield’s on Melrose. He has been a passionate Wine lover for years but eight years
ago he had his first Sake moment that changed his life. Since then he has immersed
himself in the world of Sake. He has dedicated himself to learning everything he could
about Sake, which is not a easy road to go down but full of rewards. Kurtis is working on
a Sake program that he hopes will break down the walls of Sake. Sake made simple is his
mantra and he wants people to learn and love the most amazing alcohol beverage on the
Kurtis’ passions is to learn about Sake and turn people on to their first Sake moment. He
loves to spend time with his lovely wife Lisa and beautiful son Logan. When he needs to
take time out for himself he spends it in his art studio immersed in and creating his
art. He is truly an artist at "heart" and a great guy to chat with about Sake.