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30 Best Sake by Experts in Japan

Tom Inoue

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With over 30,000 varieties of sake, it’s not very easy to choose which one is the best among them all.

This article introduces thirty of the best sake drinks as selected by local experts*. Knowing the best sake will help you diversify your choices, and save you from choosing low quality sakes out in the market.
Once you see one you think you’d like, try it right away!

*The original list was made by The Nikkei (In Japanese)

1. ARAMASA No.6 S-type

Aramasa No.6

Photo Credit: http://www.aramasa.jp/

Brand: Aramasa
Type: Junmai Ginjo

Brewed using the oldest existing sake yeast (No. 6), this sake has a fruity aroma of white peach and lychee, creating a fresh and sophisticated taste. The taste is rich and mellow, while fine and subtle carbonation makes it fresh and sharp.

2. KUHEIJI Betsu Atsurae (“Special label”)

Kuheiji Betsu-atsurae

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Kamoshibito Kuheiji
Type: Junmai Daiginjo

Brewed in Aichi prefecture, the Kuheji Betsu Atsurae has an elegant and rich fruity aroma. The mild sweetness, acidity, and richness of the body give it a complex flavor.

3. TAKA Yamadanishiki

Taka Yamadanishiki

Photo Credit: http://www.yamanaka-sake.jp/

Brand: Taka
Type: Junmai Ginjo

Made from the rice variety called “Yamada Nishiki”, this sake has a slightly deep but mild acidity, making it sophisticated and natural. Best paired with sashimi and other fish, its taste is mellow, sweet and fruity, but has a dryness and spiciness at the end.

4. SHARAKU Bizen-Omachi

Sharaku Bizen Omachi

Photo Credit:
http://www.miyaizumi.co.jp/

Brand: Sharaku
Type: Junmai Ginjo

Brewed from Bizen-Omachi rice, this sakes is crisp but complex. It is noted for its fruity aroma, mild sweetness and smooth aftertaste, making it elegantly flavored.

5. YAMAWA Tokubetsu Junmai

Yamawa Tokubetsu Junmai

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Yamawa
Type: Tokubetsu Junmai

Tokubetsu Junmai is mellow and fresh with a soft flavor that matches the sweetness and acidity of food. It also has a rich taste of rice—nutty, herby, and savory.

6. AIZU CHUJO Yumenoka

 http://item.rakuten.co.jp/hasegawasaketen/1006204/#1006204Aizu Chujo Yumenoka

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Aizu Chujo
Type: Junmai Ginjo

This sake is mild and refreshing on the palate, balanced by its soft sweetness and mellow taste. It has a gentle aftertaste and is best served chilled.

7. SAWAYA MATSUMOTO Shuhari

SAWAYA MATSUMOTO Shuhari

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Sawaya Matsumoto
Type: Junmai

This sake has a lively and pleasant aroma, fresh and light taste, and a pleasant acidic sensation on the palate that stands out.

8. IWASHIMIZU Gowari koji

IWASHIMIZU Gowari koji

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Iwashimizu
Type: Junmai

The pride of Nagano prefecture, this sake has a rich body, ripe and fruity aroma, and thick sweetness. The balanced level of sweetness makes this sake very easy to drink.

9. NOGUCHI Muroka Nama Genshu

NOGUCHI Muroka Nama Genshu

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Noguchi
Type: Yamahai Junmai

Muroka nama genshu is sake that is unfiltered (muroka), unpasteurized (nama), and undiluted (genshu). This Junmai sake offers a sharp acidity and a deep and strong taste with a pleasant aftertaste.

10. AIZU MUSUME Tsurushi

AIZU MUSUME Tsurushi

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Aizu Musume
Type: Junmai

From the first sip, you’ll be surprised with its matured aroma and sweetness. “Tsurushi” has a rich body and a very elegant taste.

11. JUYONDAI Kakushin Honmaru Hon-nama

JUYONDAI Kakushin Honmaru Hon-nama

Photo Credit: http://10yondai.blog67.fc2.com/

Brand: Juyondai
Type: Junmai Ginjo

With the aroma of ripe fruits and florals, this sake has a thick but balanced taste, solid sweetness, and a gentle aftertaste.

12. JIKON Origarami Nama

JIKON Origarami Nama

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Jikon
Type: Tokubetsu Junmai

This unpasteurized (nama) sake has a light and fresh fruity taste. Its thick sweetness and fresh acidity make for a harmonized afterglow.

13. MII NO KOTOBUKI Haru-Jungin QuadriFoglio

MII NO KOTOBUKI Haru-Jungin QuadriFoglio

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Mii no Kotobuki
Type: Junmai Ginjo

Quadrifoglio (4-leaf clover) has a deep and rich body with a citrus-like freshness, giving it a lively and pleasant feeling. It has a light but sharp aftertaste.

14. KOTSUZUMI Rojo-Hana-Ari Aoi

KOTSUZUMI Rojo-Hana-Ari Aoi

Photo Credit: http://www.tsuzumiya.com/

Brand: Kotsuzumi
Type: Junmai Daiginjo

A full-bodied sake, Rojo-Hana-Ari is literally translated as “Bloom on the Path”. The taste of white peach, apples, and pears bloom very well from this bottle, making it loved and recommended by its own brewers. The harmony between this sake’s fresh aroma creates a mild and clear taste.

15. HITAKAMI “Yasuke” Gourd Bottle

HITAKAMI “Yasuke” Gourd Bottle

Photo Credit: http://www.yamatoya-e.com/

Brand: Hitakami
Type: Junmai Daiginjo

This delicately bottled sake has profound taste, hence considered as “a gem of the highest peak” for sake brewers in Hyogo prefecture. This sake’s subtle fragrance and gentle flavor make it a best match for odorous foods, such as, white meat, shrimp, squid, and shellfish.

16. YUKI NO BOUSHA

YUKI NO BOUSHA

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Yuki no Bousha (“Cabin in the Snow”)
Type: Yamahai Junmai Ginjo

With a mild and gentle acidity, this sake imparts a light but sharp aftertaste.

17. HOUKEN Hattan Nishiki

HOUKEN Hattan Nishiki

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Houken
Type: Junmai Ginjo

Made with the “Hattan Nishiki” rice variety, this sake has a mild aroma and taste immediately followed by a sharp bitter aftertaste. It has a refreshing acidity that harmonizes well with white meat or other light meat dishes.

18. ISHIZUCHI Green Label Fune-Shibori

ISHIZUCHI Green Label Fune-Shibori

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Ishizuchi
Type: Junmia Ginjo

Produced through the technique called “Fune-shibori”, this sake has been pressed in a traditional wooden “fine” box press. This technique delivers a gentle, crisp, and refreshing taste like spring water. It has a delicate body and smooth texture. It becomes tastier when taken with food.

19. DASSAI 50 Sparkling Nigori

DASSAI 50 Sparkling Nigori

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Dassai
Type: Junmai Daiginjo

The pride of Yamaguchi prefecture, this sake is scented with a soft and gentle fruity aroma, moderate sweetness, and a brisk aftertaste. Best paired with light-flavored dishes, Dassai Junmai Daiginjo is known for its orange peel and jasmine aroma with tart orange flavor.

20. KOKURYU Kuzuryu

KOKURYU Kuzuryu

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Kokuryu
Type: Junmai

Best enjoyed warm, this sake is loaded with fruity aroma followed by creaminess, “umami”, and acidity in the palate. Pair this with vegetable dishes and salads, and you’ll have a delectable sake experience.

21. TENSEI Ginbou

TENSEI Ginbou

Photo Credit: http://www.yamanaka-sake.jp/

Brand: Tensei
Type: Junmai

This junmai has a gentle aroma and a profound, subtle taste. Heating this sake at 50℃ reveals its pleasant aftertaste.

22. SUEHIRO Gensai

SUEHIRO Gensai

Photo Credit: https://www.astyle.jp/

Brand: Suehiro
Type: Daiginjo

This sake has a sophisticated cherry, pear, and floral aroma, and a profound taste of heavy water and gentle rice. Known for its “super silky and soft” smoothness, this sake is best paired with food with gentle flavors like tofu.

23. SOKU Miyama-Nishiki

SOKU Miyama-Nishiki

Photo Credit: http://sookuu.net/

Brand: Soku (Sookuu)
Type: Junmai

Made with “Miyama-Nishiki” rice, this sake has the rich taste and sweetness of rice. Its texture is firm but light.

24. KAIUN Iwai-zake (“celebration sake”)

KAIUN Iwai-zake

Photo Credit: http://kaiunsake.com/

Brand: Kaiun
Type: Tokubetsu Honjozo

To celebrate the development of Onuki village where this sake brewery came from, everyone went on holiday. This sake got its name from that celebration.
Clear and transparent with a little hint of amber, this unpasteurized sake has slightly sweet aroma and the light taste of banana and vanilla. It is dry and has mild acidity best enjoyed chilled.

25. SAWANO-HANA Hana-Gokoro

SAWANO-HANA Hana-Gokoro

Photo Credit: http://shimizuya.info/

Brand: Sawano-hana
Type: Honjozo

Best known as an evening drink, this Honjozo has a rich body that flourishes in the mouth. It has an initial light but profound taste followed by a pleasant and fresh aftertaste.

26. GUNMA IZUMI Yamahai Moto Junmai

GUNMA IZUMI Yamahai Moto Junmai

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Gunma Izumi
Type: Yamahai Junmai

This sake from Gunma prefecture may be full-bodied, but its smooth, fresh, and light taste marks its elegance as a Yamahai-type. Unlike most Yamahai-types, it has a subtle acidity that blends well with all kinds of food when served warm. After opening a bottle of this sake, you will appreciate good, harmonious flavors.

27. DEWAZAKURA Oka (Ouka) Ginjo Nama

DEWAZAKURA Oka (Ouka) Ginjo Nama

Photo Credit: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/

Brand: Dewazakura
Type: Ginjo

Originally brewed in Yamagata prefecture, this unpasteurized (nama) sake has the aroma of a fresh and succulent fruit. Its well-balanced acidity and mild sweetness give it a light taste.

28. KURAMITSU

KURAMITSU

Photo Credit: http://www.bluenote.co.jp/

Brand: KURAMITSU (by Kikusui)
Type: Junmai Daiginjo

Rich and elegant, Kuramitsu has a light and fresh fruity aroma and a rich taste of rice—nutty, herby, and savory.

29. KUROSAWA Junmai Kimoto

KUROSAWA Junmai Kimoto

Photo Credit: http://classicwinesofcalifornia.com/

Brand: Kurosawa
Type: Junmai

Highly recommended by sake enthusiasts, this sake has rich and profound taste of rice, yet is relatively light and gentle on the throat. This smooth, dry sake was made through the meticulous hand brewing technique called Kimoto, hence its name.

30. COWBOY Yamahai Genshu

COWBOY Yamahai Genshu

Photo Credit: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/

Brand: COWBOY (by Shiokawa)
Type: Yamahai Junmai Ginjo

The “cowboy” has a strong acidity, and a sharp, rich body that creates a dry and lively sake. It’s a new type of sake best paired with full-flavored food like grilled meat or fish.

The experts have spoken, and now it’s your turn to decide which one you’ll try first. Enjoy the sake that fits your taste preference and one that will invigorate your mood and drinking experience!

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