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Basic Prices of Sake That Everybody Should Know

Tom Inoue

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Do you know the right price for a bottle of Japanese sake?

Do you know how much you should pay when buying it in your country or in Japan?

The price of sake is affected by factors, such as, the type of sake and the retail size it comes in.

Let this article be your basic guide in selecting the best sake for your budget.

1. Sizes of sake bottles

Japanese sake comes in several bottle sizes and the price changes almost proportionally to its size.

price and size

2. Price based on the Type of Sake

Currently, only the 720 ml bottle is sold internationally. The other sizes are mostly available only in Japan.

For the purpose of this article, the prices will be based on the 720 ml bottle.

Prices in Japan

The price range of different types of sake are as follows:

price by type

As you can see, Junmai-types (i.e. Junmai Daiginjo, Junmai Ginjo, Junmai/Tokubetsu Junmai) are slightly more expensive than non-Junmai types.

This list shows the general price range of sake by type as of April 2016 in Japan. Of course, there are exceptions. Some brands that have high demand for their products, such as, Dassai go well beyond the price range.

International price

There are several sake stores operating outside of Japan. The store prices are generally 2 – 3 times higher than in Japan.

3. Sake’s Quality is almost proportional to its Price

quality=price

Like with most things, the quality of sake improves as you pay more. Sake journalist John Gauntner said in his book (“Sake Confidential”) that only 10% of sake are mispriced and have lower quality in relation to its price.

Why is this always the case? The common reasons for this are:

  • Sake is the pride of each brewery.
    A higher price means that the brewery is satisfied with its quality.
  • High-grade sake uses only a small portion of the rice grain.
    The more rice is polished, the higher its quality. Since more rice is used up for higher-quality sake, the raw material cost goes up.
  • It takes time and effort to make good quality sake.
    Ginjo sake, for example, takes twice the amount of time to be produced compared to other types of sake. It also employs very strict control of temperature for fermentation.

The main factors affecting the price of sake are the different types, the retail sizes, and where it is sold. Take these in consideration when understanding how sake products are priced and when choosing one that fits your budget, as well as, your palate!

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