Whether there be a difference in the brewing, pressing, finishing or bottling of the saké, there are several styles to consider. Each style produces a wonderfully different experience. We have broken up some popular and lesser known styles over two weeks to get you started. Happy tasting!
Sparkling: Various Techniques exist for ensuring there is effervescence in the bottled saké. Sparkling saké is hot in Japan right now. Look forward to seeing more and more of this style hitting the shelves in the future. Hakutsuru Awa Yuki is one of our newest and favorite imports. At only 5% ABV, you can sip on this light and sweet bubbly saké all day. Enjoy with a slice of lime, or mix with orange juice for a killer saké-mimosa.
Koshu: Deliberately aged saké. Typically, one of the earthiest and strong tasting. A rare style that may appear dark in color with a musty aroma. Saké is usually intended to be consumed within a year of making, but there is a slowly growing interest within the industry in aging saké. It is pretty hard to find Koshu imported to the US. Keep your eyes peeled as this definitely worth trying.
Kijoshu: A special, luscious sweet saké created by replacing some of the water used in fermentation with finished saké. Some liken this rich saké to sherry. Some even pour it on ice cream!
Karakuchi: Dry or very dry saké. Yoshinogawa Gensen Karakuchi is a classic dry, clean and crisp saké with layers of subtle fruit flavors and hints of earth and water portraying its Niigata home.
Sanzo-shu: Commercial, indistinguishable saké with a ton of sugar, flavoring and distilled alcohol added in for economy. This style is not legally considered saké in Japan.
Shibori-tate: Shiboritate means “freshly pressed” in Japanese, and the Japanese love fresh, new seasonal foods and beverages. Freshly pressed saké can be quite harsh and bitter, so most breweries use low acidity yeast and then filter and dilute the saké with water to make it more drinkable. Kasumi Tsuru brews a tasty Yamahai Shiboriate Namchozo. Available in select states – reach out and we can direct you.
Shinshu: New saké from this year’s rice harvest. Typically, not aged very long and intended to drink very fresh.
Taru-Zake: Saké that has been matured in Japanese cedar casks or barrels (see below) to extract the distinct aromas and spicy flavor. The time of aging varies greatly. Our team was lucky enough to try Choryo Taruzake at a WSET saké training last year.
Infused: An American addition but slowly showing up in Japan. Simply means flavor added whether as raw fruit or flavor concentrate. SakéOne was the first to brew fruit-infused saké, producing the Moonstone Family. We have Plum, Asian Pear & Coconut Lemongrass. Look forward to more delicious infused saké in our Moonstone line-up this year!
Tanrei: Clean and crisp style. Refers to refreshing flavored saké with no unusual taste that has relatively low sugar content and acidity. Tanrei saké has a light and smooth taste. Murai Family Tanrei Junmai is a slightly dry Junmai, with melon aromas and rich cantaloupe flavors. Truly delightful. Hakutsuru Tanrei Junmai is also a great example; smooth and semi-dry. Both can be enjoyed slightly warmed or chilled.
Each of these styles can also be a subcategory of premium saké, or could be a Futsu-shu. For example, a Junmai Ginjo saké could also be a Yamahai, Muroka, Nama, Genshu, Nigori, Sparkling or Koshu, or even a combination of multiple styles. Stay tuned right here next week where we’ll show just how a saké name is strung together – helping you pick your perfect saké off the shelf.
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