Japanese Sake & Spirits
What is sake?
Sake is the national beverage of Japan, most of us know this already. But what exactly is it? It is often described as a rice wine, but this isn’t quite correct as no grapes or fruit is involved in the production process. Sake is brewed from fermented rice. The rice is first polished so the outside of the grain is removed but the centre remains and the grain remains whole. Fermentation is instigated using koji mould (Aspergillus oryzae) and yeast. The alcohol content of sake usually falls between 14% and 17%, higher than most wines.
Our sake range has been carefully selected from five of the finest brewers in Japan. Boasting well over a thousand years of sake production between them these are masters of their art. Sake is classified in several ways including the rice and yeast that are used and the geographical provenance. The defining classification, however, results from how "polished" or milled the rice grains used to make the sake are and whether or not a small amount of brewer's alcohol (distilled alcohol) has been added to pronounce characteristics of flavour and fragrance. Junmai means literally "pure rice" this denotes sake that has no additional alcohol. Daiginjo, Ginjo and Honjozu are the three distinct classifications that indicate the percentage of rice that remains after polishing.
What are the different types of sake?
For any newcomer to the wonderful world of sake, you’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little confused by all the different names on some mystifying, if often very beautiful, labels and bottles.
In truth, there are many ways to classify sake, however, the defining classification results from how "polished" or milled the rice grains used to make the sake are, and whether or not a small amount of brewer's alcohol (distilled alcohol) has been added to pronounce characteristics of flavour and fragrance. Further classification is made by geographical providence.
Although these days, there are sake brewers all over the world, our range comes from five of the finest brewers in Japan. Between them, they boast well over a thousand years of sake production. They are all absolute masters of their art.
Junmai means literally "pure rice," this denotes sake that has no additional alcohol. Daiginjo, Ginjo and Honjozu are the three distinct classifications that indicate the percentage of rice that remains after polishing.
Top of the class is Daiginjo, with a high polishing ratio that results in an exceptionally refined light and fruity taste.
Ginjo is the second tier of sake, less refined than Daiginjo but still light with plenty of fruit. Both of these top tier sakes are generally drunk cold.
Junmai and Honjozo are still premium sakes but here the emphasis is on bringing out the flavours of the rice, these sakes pair well with food and can be drunk at a variety of temperatures.
What is the best sake?
Within these classifications great variations exist, no two sake are equal. One of the great joys of discovering sake is appreciating these differences and that only comes with experience. Whether you are a sake sommelier or trying sake for the first time we invite you to browse our full range of Japanese Artisan Sake and Spirits and select the sake that appeals to you.
Plum and Yuzu sake
Umeshu is made from finest Nanko plums combined with Junmai Daiginjo sake and Shochu. Yuzushu is made with a Shochu base and finest Kochi yuzu. The result in both cases is a rich, sweet flavour perfectly balancing the tartness of the plums and the yuzu. Both are best served chilled, over ice or with soda for a spectacularly refreshing and thirst-quenching drink.
Umeshu – Plum Sake Yuzushu – Yuzu Sake
Our Japanese spirits range comprises Shochu, Awamori and Okinawa Gin.
Shochu is a distilled spirit with a typical alcohol volume of 20-25%, it can be made from several different raw materials including sweet potato, barley, rice and soba (buckwheat). We currently offer a single distilled Barley Shochu and plan to expand this range soon.
Awamori is made from long-grain Thai rice that is inoculated with black koji rice mould, fermented and then distilled, we offer two Awamori including four day fermented and 10 year aged.
Okinawa Gin is a premium craft gin from tropical Okinawa made from an Awamori base and 10 botanicals, including the bumpy Okinawan bitter melon.