1.First of all, what is Japanese sake (nihonshu)?
The easiest way to describe Japanese sake is that it is a type of brewage made from rice and water. So what is a brewage? Basically, it refers to beer and wine. A brewage is the result of the alcohol fermentation of grains or fruits using yeast. For beer, the raw material is malt, for wine it is grapes, and for Japanese sake it is rice. When all is said and done, Japan is a country of rice. Many varieties of high quality rice are harvested throughout the country, so even as one speaks of tasting Japanese sake, there are actually a variety of flavors you can encounter.
2.Types of Japanese sake
Beyond the sheer quantity of types, the world of Japanese sake has depth. Allow us to introduce just one aspect of this. The “Junmaishu” type is made from a precious balance of "rice + starter (koji) + water," with no additional alcohol or sugar, so the purity capitalizes on the deliciousness of the rice. Within this category there are brews like “Nihonbashi Junmai Daiginjo, KIX exclusive label,” which are pure and are fermented at a very low temperature for an impressively refreshing flavor. Adding brewed alcohol to the list of ingredients found in “Junmaishu” for a variety called “Honjozoshu” also produces a nice flavor worth mentioning. Within this category, sake brewed at a low temperature like “Miyanoyuki: Ukiyo-e Set, Japanese sake” conveys the amount of conscientious labor put in through the nice balance of flavors and characteristic sharp quality.
3.A range of flavor dependent on temperature
Japanese sake cannot be split simply into hot and cold serving styles. Here we will introduce the main four temperature ranges. The first range is refrigerated to between 5 and 10 °C. At this range, you can enjoy a fruity flavor. The next type is warmed to about 30 to 40 °C and has a gentler flavor. “Atsukan,” or hot sake, is heated up to about 50 °C, to the point where steam rises from the surface, and has a prominent spicy flavor that appeals to drinkers. And finally, for brands of sake with a strong natural sweetness, room temperature can be just right. The ability for same type of sake to be enjoyed differently at different temperatures gives Japanese sake its depth.
4.How to identify your favorite!?
When possible, everyone wants a shortcut to figuring out what flavors they like. However, Japan has an equivalent to the “haste makes waste” phrase, and the truth of the matter is that it's difficult for anyone to arrive at a favorite without drinking it for themselves. Although, paying attention to the “ratio of polished rice” (seimaibuai) written on the label can help clue you in. The delicious flavor of rice is most heavily concentrated at its center, while the outside is generally more bitter. To remove it, the process of making Japanese wine contains a stage called "seimai" (polished rice), where the grains are pared down. Therefore, you can know which brands are the least bitter by the size of this number.
5.List of recommended Japanese sake
Now, allow us to introduce part of the glorious line-up unique to KIX. “Nihon Sakari Junmai Ginjo, with Gold Flakes” and “Senpuku Junkinpaku Ginjoshu” contain bits of gold leaf, perfect for celebratory formal occasions. Items like the “Yoshinogawa Golden Gourd, Japanese Sake” in a gourd shape and the “Daiginjo, Japanese Doll Bottle” are recommended as souvenirs for their strong impact and spot-on looks. If you need help sorting through our enormous selection, you can leave it up to our staff to choose a brand that meets your wishes, whether it's “a drink that goes down easy” or “a popular brand.” On the other hand, if there's a name that has already caught your interest, wouldn't it be great to venture for an item that has a unique label and exclusive packaging!?