October 4, 2012
There are six commonly accepted sake categories that vary depending on the extent the rice is polished, and whether distilled alcohol has been added or not.
Junmai: 70 percent of each grain remaining.
Honjozo: 70 percent of each grain remaining plus distilled alcohol.
Junmai Ginjo: 60 percent of each grain remaining.
Ginjo: 60 percent of each grain remaining plus distilled alcohol.
Junmai Dai Ginjo: 50 percent of each grain remaining.
Dai Ginjo: 50 percent of each grain remaining plus distilled alcohol.
Other variations include:
Nigori: Unfiltered Sake.
Taru: Cedar aged Sake
Nama: Unpasteurized Sake
Koshu: Aged Sake
Kijoshu: Dessert Sake
Genshu: Undiluted Sake
To get a better understanding of the different styles of sake I met with Ru Suzuki, the sushi chef and owner of Sushi In The Raw on Spring Street in Nevada City. There we tasted several different sakes that he serves in his restaurant. Some were more aromatic than others, some lighter, some more full-bodied, and mostly dry but at least one had a little sweetness to it. What they did all have in common was a lovely textural feeling, a gentle mix of smooth, subtle, and very elegant flavors.
Kikusui, Junmai Ginjo
Very smooth yet full-bodied with rich flavors and a lovely soft texture
Amanoto, Junmai Ginjo "Diamond Dust"
Only semi-filtered, lightly cloudy, full-bodied and very rich tasting
Kanchiku, Junmai Dai Ginjo
Very floral, anise, spicy, fragrant, full-bodied and very smooth.
Dassai Junmai Dai Ginjo
(only 23 percent of each grain remaining, the highest degree of milling of any sake in the world)
Fragrant aromas of honeydew melon with just a hint of sweetness, very smooth and very delicious.
Kamotsuru Soukaku Dai Ginjo
Flavors of spice, anise and citrus lemon peel
Aged in cedar wood. Subtle with mild cedar and spice aomas.
Shou Chiku Bai, Nigori (unfiltered)
Yummy, a little cloudy, a little sweet, a wonderful way to finish a sake tasting.