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Sake

Sake is a traditional Japanese spirit made from fermented rice through a special brewing process:

Fermentation

Rice is polished to remove protein and oils, becoming into starch. After a resting period, it's soaked in water and washed clean, then it's boiled or steamed, and allowed to cool in a culture room where a fungus is added. This type of fungus is called koji or aspergillus oryzae.

Koji rice is now mixed with water, and yeast, lactic acid is also added (or naturally created by longer periods of time) in order to kill any unwanted bacteria. This will form an starter mash, in a certain way this whole procedure resembles to the making of a sour-dough in the bread field. Starter mash is then increased in volume after a time by adding more rice, water, and koji, becoming into a main mash or 'moromi'.

This moromi is now allowed to go through a multiple parallel fermentation process that usually takes from 2 to 6 weeks, in which starch is converted to sugar by the koji and sugar is converted to alcohol by the yeast.

Brewer's Alcohol

After fermenting, Sake is now pressed to separate liquids from solids together with a small amount of distilled alcohol called brewer's alcohol, which is added before this step. This is to extract flavors and aromas from the solids. Followed by removing the remaining sediment, Sake is now filtered and pasteurized allowing it now to rest and mature. Finally it is diluted with water to lower the alcohol content and then it's bottled.

Alcohol (ABV):

15-20% (30 to 40 proof)

Types of Sake

There are 5 basic types of sake, each requires different brewing methods and rice milling.  

  1. Junmai-shu

  2. Honjozo-shu

  3. Ginjo-shu

  4. Daiginjo-shu

  5. Namazake

Each of the first four categories are known as Special Designation Sake, or Tokutei Meishoshu, which have a general flavor profile based on the brewing employed.