Sake is a typical Japanese drink.
In fact, the Japanese refer to the quintessential drink as Nihonshu, a Japanese word for “Japanese Wines.” If you happen to stay or visit Japan, you will run into the drink everywhere you go. From temples, weddings and festivals, you must run into Sake whether you like it or not. Although Sake is gaining worldwide popularity, most people are still unaware whether it is wine or beer. Some people are even not aware whether it should be served cold or warm.
It is okay to classify Sake as beer, given that it is made from rice, which is a grain. Nonetheless, the drink can be made from more than 50 different varietals of rice.
This is similar to wine, which is made of different varietals of grapes. One difference comes in that Wine is vintaged while Sake is not. It only takes about a month to make sake and is best consumed fresh. Its alcohol content varies between 13 and 18% and can be served warm or cold depending on your preference.
More than 1500 breweries have been established to make Sake in Japan.
Each brewery produces several types and/or grades of Sake. Besides, the different types or grades will likely change every year.
Therefore, it is extremely a daunting task to limit ourselves to a handful of Sake brands.
So much subjectivity can be evidenced in making a choice between bad Sake and good Sake.
This is because it would involve so many factors to make the ranking meaningful.
It might be hard to try replacing your own palate or personal experience in assessing the pros and cons of various grades or types of Sake.
Nonetheless, below are 10 most popular brands of Sake.
They are ranked according to their popularity, stability and brewer’s reputability. I am certain that you will find good sake here. All the best!
1 – Hakkaisan
This is a delicious premium brand. It has an exceptionally clean, well-crafted and balanced taste. These qualities have made the brand popular in all parts of the world. Besides, you can make your choice among its various tastes. Here are some of Hakkaisan tastes that you will not go wrong with
“Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo”-Call to mind the gentle snow and crisp air of an excellent winter’s day with “Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo.” You must enjoy its mellow texture and hints of rice. In deed, it has an exceptional elegant palate and clarity of flavor.
“Hakkaisan Ginjo”-Whichever the season, the expressive character of “Hakkaisan Ginjo” will definitely appeal to you. It is fortified and its level of craftsmanship and quality is top-notch. Much attention is given to detail and it is specially produced to coax out more intricate aroma and richer body.
“Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai”-Tokubetsu is a Japanese word for “special.” This grade is special in many ways. Its signature ingredient is the fine water that comes from the filtered melting snow of Mount Hakkai. In fact, this is what gives this type of Sake a smooth flavor and taste. It would be the perfect drink to pair with your Sashimi, Sushi and Tempura.
“Hakkaisan Honjozo”-This is a more versatile brand. It is a drink that you will find easy to drink. You will find it better when served warm to bring out the mild flavors of rice and Koji. This has made it the most accessible and bestselling Sake.
“Hakkaisan Futsushu”-This type of Sake was created with a goal to create a high quality and delicious brew. Its flavor is delicious, dry and clean. It attention to quality is high, which will offer you tremendous value.
2 – Isojiman
Isojiman brands have gained worldwide reputation for their perfection. Talk of “Isojiman Ginjo”, which is very clear with a light, almond, discrete, coffee beans aroma. It also comes in an elegant velvety package. Every sip you take will definitely bring up a new facet. You can also try “Isojiman Daiginjo”, which comes in light gold color and a fruity aroma. Every sip you take will make you crave for more. Other elegant types you can go for include “Aiyama Daiginjo” and “Isojiman Ginjo Nama.”
3 – Juyondai
This brand of sake is considered special for maintaining its aura. Therefore, you may find it difficult to come across this cult. It is not a wonder to find the brand sold out in most retail and online stores. Incase, you are lucky to find the brand, you might be limited on the amount you can buy. In deed, Juyondai is an excellent brand. It has a crisp taste of melon and green apple that will make your experience memorable.
4 – Ozeki
The secret you will discover with Ozeki is its freshness. It will definitely taste better and different, especially right after it is packaged. It is made using the finest rice grains and clear water that is sourced from Sierra Nevada. Some of the fascinating and diverse tastes of Ozeki that you can enjoy include Nigori, Junmai Daiginjo, Junmai Ginjo, Dry and Junmai.
5 – Suehiro
This is a popular Sake brand in Japan and across the borders. In fact, it dominates most international and domestic awards. It is made using “Yamahai Method”, a traditional method that utilizes a gradual open-fermentation process. This will give you a complete flavor.
6 – Otokoyama
It is the most popular dry sake brand from Hokkaido. One thing you will like about this brand is that it is affordable. Besides, it is dependable because you will often find Otokoyama in the menu of most restaurants. The feeling of juicy pineapple, white chocolate and sweet rice that feels your nose is unimaginable.
7 – Kubota Suiji
The brand made by one of the popular Sake producer in Japan. Although I found this brand overpriced and mediocre, it remains my favorite Sake drink. It comes in various types such as Kubota Manjyu, Kubota Hekijyu and Kubota Senjyu. They will definitely give you that impactful, brighter and fresher flower like aroma.
8 – Himuro
My first experience with Himuro was entirely remarkable. The brand is unpasteurized, which brings out a fresher taste. Nonetheless, this special treatment calls for refrigerated transport. Although this makes the brand more expensive, it remains a classical brand of Sake in Japan you cannot resist.
9 – Hakutsuru
What I love about the brand is that it is clean, straightforward and solid. You can try their “Sayuri Nigori” type of sake. You will definitely love its fineness. You can even get to know more about the brand by visiting their museum.
10 – Sawanotsuru
This brand of sake is brewed form the finest quality rice grains. Besides, it is made using pure natural water sourced from Miya’s spring. It is brewed using the best traditional methods bringing out flavorful sake worthy trying.