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Top 5 Budget Sake Under $30

| Louie Anne Batac-Nguyen

As a sake enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for the best sake at different price points.

Sure, I think about tasting the most expensive sake as I imagine it would be glorious, but I want to work my way up to that. Fortunately, there are a lot of options that are affordable and delicious.

With sake, price doesn’t necessarily indicate quality or taste. Many breweries offer budget sake in their lineup that, by all standards, does not come short of their devotion and commitment to bringing amazing sake to your table—or anywhere you like to drink your sake. Poolside, anyone?

If you’re looking to play with your palate and try different categories of sake, here are our choices for the top 5 best budget sake:

Sake lineup under 30 dollers

Junmai: Zuiyo “Hojun Junmai”

Zuiyo “Hojun Junmai” with Asian food
Zuiyo “Hojun Junmai” served with a Pan-Asian mashup of turkey topped with eggs and a side of hot cheetos.

This junmai from Kumamoto Prefecture won gold in the National Kansake Contest’s value-for-money, hot sake category (2018)—and it doesn’t stop there. Its versatility also invites you to enjoy it at room temperature or over ice, and its richness is not lost in either direction.

Good for: those summer days with both rain and sunshine.

Ginjo: Tamanohikari “Classic”

Tamanohikari “Classic” with Beef salad
We do a lot of mixed dishes at home. Paired this classic sake with a Viet-inspired beef salad.

When something is labeled as “classic,” you know it’s worth trying, and I love that this junmai ginjo yamahai style sake from the Old Capital of Kyoto is available to us at such great value. A quick note on yamahai: it’s a style of brewing that allows more interesting flavors by allowing the lactic acid to develop naturally. Technical notes aside, the point is: if you haven’t had a yamahai before, let this be your introduction!

Good for: you and your friends who know what’s good.

Daiginjo: Tengumai “50”

Tengumai “50” with Filipino dishes
This crisp, semi-dry daiginjo was a good pairing for all the flavors in this meal.

If Tengumai sounds familiar to you, it may be because you’ve come across its earthier twin. Compared to the rest of the Tengumai line, this junmai daiginjo is aged for a short time and with a polishing ratio of 50%, it is noticeably lighter and refreshing when served slightly chilled.

Although it would be perfect for sushi, sashimi and tempura, I really enjoyed how the crispness of this sake helped to reset my palate when I paired it with a full kit of savory Filipino dishes.

Good for: bringing to any gathering even when you’re not sure what will be served because it’s very light and smooth.

Nigori: Kurosawa “Nigori”

Nigori style sake is a go-to for spicy dishes.

This sake from Kurosawa is really the perfect introduction to nigori sake at a very affordable price. It has a milky appearance and creamy texture that works well in toning down spicy dishes. Don’t forget to gently shake it to wake up all that goodness!

Good for: that one friend who always asks for the highest spice level.

P.S. If you like nigori, there’s also nigori + sparkling sake to try for double the fun!

Crawfish sake pairing
We enjoyed it with spicy cajun crawfish, too!

Fruity: Kamikokoro “Momo”

Kamikokoro “Momo” with brunch
Another delicious, light sake to drink with brunch.

Sometimes you just want to drink something fruity to cool off on these hot summer days! This peach flavored sake from Okayama Prefecture, the home of Momotaro (Peach Boy), has a relatively low alcohol content and is crafted to deliver all the sweet nectar expected from a fresh fruit.

Definitely serve chilled or over ice. I would try this poured over a snow cone, too!

Good for: a fruity, soft glow (alcohol level is only 8%).

Which budget sake are your favorites? We’d love to hear from you at #tippysake!
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