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The Top 8 Sake Brands Every Beginner Should Know

Tom Inoue

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With a wide selection of sake brands available in the market nowadays, choosing which ones to try is not easy. The fact that sake tastes so differently brand by brand makes it even more complicated.

There is also limited information about each brand, and there is always the possibility of purchasing an inferior product.

This article introduces you to the 8 most popular brands of sake in Japan. Choosing one of them guarantees that you’ll experience the beauty and delicateness of sake, minus the unnecessary worries.

1. DASSAI

Dassai

Photo Credit: https://www.asahishuzo.ne.jp/

Dassai is designed with the sake beginner in mind. It has a fruity aroma and a sweet, fresh taste.

The brewery Asahi-shuzo, believes that great sake should be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone, not only by fans of Japanese sake. That is the ideal they live up to when making sake.

With decades of experience under their belt, Asahi is known for transforming its brewing process from simply relying on a few experts’ experiences and intuition to a data-driven, systematic methodology.

2. JUYONDAI

Juyondai

Photo Credit: http://www.hideyoshi-inc.com/odori/event.html/

The brewery Takagi-shuzo’s policy is “never second best”. As a result, it has long been the top brand among other excellent Japanese sake brands.

The taste of Juyondai is characterized as generous and rich. This is the outcome of Takagi’s desire, “to bring to customers sake that possesses the true deliciousness of rice”.

In Takagi, the brewmaster is said to be able to ‘communicate’ with the yeast during fermentation and control its activities, and take drinking rounds in restaurants and bars to assess the quality of Juyondai in various situations.

3. KUBOTA

Kubota

Photo Credit: http://kuwabara-sakaya.sakura.ne.jp

The brewery Asahi-shuzo (the same name, but different from Dassai’s brewery), believes that the quality of sake never exceeds the quality of the rice used. Thus, a part of their effort includes a partnership with rice producers to develop unique varieties of rice best-suited for sake making.

Their facility uses modern equipments necessary to consistently provide high quality sake.

The taste of Kubota is sharp, light, and dry. It is well-loved by people and has transcended gender and generations ever since.

4. HAKKAISAN

Hakkaisan

Photo Credit: http://www.syusendo-horiichi.co.jp/

Hakkaisan’s goal is to improve the quality of ‘ordinary’ sake to increase the standards of Japanese sake in general. It aims to make ordinary sake at par with Ginjo (top 13% of sake by volume) quality.

The taste is sharp, light, and dry, which is similar to Kubota. The brand and its high quality is widely known to the Japanese even to those who are not sake enthusiasts.

5. HIROKI

Hiroki

Photo Credit: http://yamayukika.exblog.jp/

Hiroki-shuzo focuses on solely improving the taste of sake to produce a highly valuable and marketable product. For that purpose, it has been investing as many resources as possible to produce high quality rice and to modernize its facilities.

It believes that quality sake can only be produced through unwavering effort for long periods of time without loosing even a bit of concentration. With this in mind, it produces only a limited amount of sake every year.

Its taste is profound yet feels natural. Since it’s so popular, it is now very difficult to get.

6. KAMOSHI-BITO KUHEIJI

Kamoshi-Bito Kuheiji

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

The brewery, Manjo-shuzo, sees opportunity in breaking the status quo of sake.

They grow their own rice to deepen their understanding of this drink. They also own a French winery which allows them to incorporate a different craft into sake making.

Its taste is characterized by a fruity aroma and fresh savoriness. A three-star restaurant in Paris offers this brand.

7. ARAMASA

Aramasa

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

The brewery, Aramasa-shuzo, is known to provide the oldest existing sake yeast in Japan. It’s name, ‘No. 6’, eventually became the name of this brand.

Aramasa sake is made in small batches and takes a long time to brew.

Their sake is described as refreshing and graceful. It is also a very popular drink in Japan.

8. KOKURYU

Kokuryu

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

Kokuryu-shuzo is known as one of the first brands to commercialize Daiginjo (the highest quality sake) in Japan.

What makes this brand different is the integration of the maturation process of French wine. Kokuryu developed an innovative method of storing sake under 0°C (32°F) for years, while other sakes in the market have a much shorter maturation process.

The resulting sake has a gentle, mild aroma and a delicate taste.

We have given you a glimpse of the best sake brands. Now you have an idea what to look for in a sake store or Japanese restaurant. Simply ask for any of these brands and you’re good to go.

  • Dassai
  • Juyondai
  • Kubota
  • Hakkaisan
  • Hiroki
  • Kamoshi-bito Kuheiji
  • Aramasa
  • Kokuryu
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