What about sake?
By Cody Winfrey (Beverage Specialist)
People often talk about beer, wine and liquor when they talk about beverages for events and for parties. But, what about sake?! Yes, I said sake.
A long-time advocate for sake, I only recently had the privilege to tour Minneapolis’ own sake brewery Moto-i. First things first, sake is not rice wine. In fact, sake is closer to beer. It is a beverage made by fermenting rice that has been milled or polished to remove the bran. Bran is where all of the proteins and enzymes reside. It’s the outer shell of the rice.
Breweries and styles
There are a lot of different breweries and a lot of different styles. Things that contribute to style are the rice type, mill percentage and water.
The most well-known sake is Junmai. It is regarded as the purest style of sake because there is never any added sugars or distilled alcohol. Junmai is like a whiskey drinkers’ sake. There is no hiding anything. With Junmai, if you like it, you’d start looking at different brewers and prefectures to find your favorite within the category.
Beyond Junmai is Daiginjo. It’s a style that moves toward elegance. Here the rice is milled 50% and distilled alcohol is added. Distilled alcohol is added to draw out the aromatics: florals and melon primarily. It’s a very clean style.
I know what you’re thinking… haven’t I heard of Junmai Daiginjo? Yes. Where Junmai has no milling requirement there is a 50% requirement in Junmai Daiginjo, but there is no distilled alcohol added.
Water in sake
The last thing I’d like to touch on is water. Some people in the sake world don’t agree about this point, but many do. Some Master Sommeliers claim the ability to detect the water source in blind tasting sakes.
A lot of brewers build their breweries near a clean and unique water source. It is the most important ingredient a brewer has. You can mill all the rice you want, but without water, all you have is shiny rice. In Japan they praise water. The main difference is hard and soft water. Hard water is heavy in minerals and soft… you guessed it! - has a lower mineral content. Hard water leads to a quicker brew and soft water is much slower.
We will call this Part 1 of our look at sake. Taylor from the South Lyndale team joined me and she is working on a little write up as well on Cold vs. Warm Sake. She will cover Honjozo and Nigori very soon!
Lastly, there are a lot of sizes to choose from 1800ml, 720ml, 300ml & 180ml (the wonderful One Cup!) You can get them all at South Lyndale Liquors.
We'll see you soon!
Continue the journey
Intrigued about sake? Continue your education in "What About Sake: Part 2What About Sake: Part 2