TYPES OF SAKE

At Tippsy, we believe that classification of sake is not as important as your experience with brands or the time you spend with your loved ones. Here we want to explain just the basics of how rice polishing rates and brewing techniques represent different categories and form flavor characteristics. And “Yes”, when a half of rice grain is milled away the yield of final product decreases thus the prices of Daiginjo are typically higher than others. But what matters the most is the unique brewing techniques of each brand and the flavor characteristics that enhance your dining experience.

The Three Main categories:

Junmai, Ginjo & Daiginjo

We simplify the terminology and classify the rice polishing ratio by 3 groups: Junmai, Ginjo and Daiginjo. In the process of making sake, rice grains are polished before steaming, mashing, fermenting, and squeezing. The polishing work takes dedicated care and affects largely the type of flavors the brewers want to achieve.

Junmai

70% or less rice polishing ratio

"Junmai" is typically milled to a minimum level of 70% to preserve the body and richness of pure ingredients. It typically holds well at warmer temperatures and can reveal unique rich flavors. When the word Junmai is used to describe Ginjo and Daiginjo products, it means alcohol was not added in the process.

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Ginjo

60% or less rice polishing ratio

"Ginjo" labels often possess fruity and floral flavor nuances, and tend to be light and refreshing on the palate. To receive the Ginjo designation a sake must use rice that has been milled down to 60% prior to steaming, but in practice many have a polishing ratio of 50%.

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Daiginjo

50% or less rice polishing ratio

"Daiginjo" requires  a rice polishing ratio of 50% or less. They are made in smaller quantities, and rely more on traditional methods. Brewers use their highest skills and knowledge to extract the full flavor and aroma from the rice and craft the best quality sake possible. Daiginjo showcases the level of craftsmanship of brewers as it takes a lot of effort and delicate care to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.

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Sub Categories

There are many different ways and techniques to brew sake. Each different style of sake provides unique flavor profiles. By learning a bit of background, you will enjoy sake quite more.

Honjozo

Alcohol added

During the post-war recovery period in Japan, resources were scarce and the practice of inflating sake with alcohol was rampant. For some, added alcohol may still represent mass-produced, low quality brews, but in modern times, breweries use alcohol to give clean and sharp mouthfeel, not just for price advantages.

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Futsushu

Unclassified other regular

"Futsushu" literally mean regular sake. The sake classification specifies the rice polishing ratio, types of rice, whether or not alcohol is added. Any other types of sake that don't fall under above is classified as "Futsushu". 70% of sake consumption in Japan is from this category.

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Flavored

Fruit infused

"Flavored sake" is a broad category for Tippsy that includes fruits-infused sake and fruits-mixed sake including "Umeshu" (Plum sake).

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Nigori

Rich, full-bodied, Unfilterd

Sometimes called "Cloudy Sake", Nigori contains the particles of unfermented rice grains that are intentionally left at the filtration. It has rich and often sweet flavors. We recommend the bottle be slightly tilted before serving to blend these particles at the bottom.

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Sparkling

Bubbly aperitif

A sparkling sake is a great aperitif. Usually low in alcohol with a fuller body, it can have bubbles from natural fermentation or added-carbonation just like sparkling wine.

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Koshu

Aged for 3+ years

"Koshu" means aged sake. Most sake are stored at a cool temperature for 6 months before release but Koshu is typically aged over 3 years. It takes on an amber color and milder, richer and well-rounded taste profiles.

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Yamahai

Traditional brewing style

A traditional and time-consuming method for fermentation that produces and nurtures lactic acids in the tank. It typically has deep,  bolder flavors with pronounced sweetness and acidity.

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Kimoto

Labor-intensive brewing method

Similar to "Yamahai", "Kimoto" uses naturally-existing lactic acids that requires delicate care and maintenance of the environment for an entire month. And It takes one month of delicate care of maintaining the environment. "Kimoto" also involves the traditional way of mixing the rice mash, which in old days was associated with singing of brewers to stay awake and count time.

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Nama

Draft, Unpasteurized

This literally means "unpasteurized". Because it skips the process of pasteurization, "Nama" contains its bold refreshing tastes. It requires delicate constant refrigeration to prevent changes in its color and flavors.

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Genshu

Undiluted

"Genshu" is undiluted sake. Usually at the end of production, sake is typically diluted with water to lower alcohol content to 14-15%. Undiluted sake, on the other hand, has a higher alcohol content with richer and stronger flavors.

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Muroka

Skips carbon filtering

Sake usually goes through carbon-filtration for better transparency and aroma balance. "Muroka", literally meaning not filtered, skips this process to retain robust aromas and raw taste profiles.

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