What is Sake?

Sake is one of the world’s most fascinating alcohol beverages. It’s popularity is continually growing, attracting more and more interest from all over the world.

Sake (pronounced sah-kee) is the national alcoholic beverage of Japan made purely from fermented rice.

It dates back over 2 thousand years ago, to the Yayoi Period in 300 BC, when Japan first developed wet rice cultivation. As centuries have passed, rice has remained the staple of Japanese diet and cuisine.

Depending on its brand and type, Sake has an average alcoholic volume of between 12-16%. It comes is various styles, as such: still, sparkling, unfiltered and many more.

While Sake is most popularly sold as a beverage, it is also common in Japanese cooking, particularly sauces and marinades. The alcohol evaporates, leaving behind a subtle flavour.

How is Sake made?

The process of making Sake is delicate, complex, and similar to that of making the UK’s favourite tipple, beer. Both are made from grains, not fruits. Sake, however, uses rice instead of barley.

During the brewing process, up to 80% of the final product is water, so fine water is essential for making great Sake.

After adding koji rice, yeast, and water to steamed rice, brewers allow the mixture to ferment.

After pressing, an essence is created, which could have  a naturally sweet taste.

 Click on the image to see a larger version

Click on the image to see a larger version

What is special about Sake?

Sake is no longer only served in Japanese restaurants. Its unique character and efficient method is today recognised in many different types of cuisine, ranging from Far Eastern cuisine such as Chinese, Korean and Indian to European favourites like Italian, French, British and many more.

The amount of time and care that goes into making one bottle of Sake is immense.

Producers must grow Sake rice, while carefully monitoring and handling the microorganisms to enable the rice to then be converted into alcohol.

The fermentation process is called multiple parallel fermentation and there is no other like it in the world.

Compared to other alcohols, the serving temperature of Sake is varied. Uniquely, the same type of Sake can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature or chilled. A Sake served at various temperature will reveal different characteristics.

Today, a large proportion of Sake breweries have improved their brewing environment to ensure high quality, subtle aromas and beautiful flavours.

Sake contains plenty of natural Amino acids, which are vital to our diets and can be used as a lotion to soften and rejuvenate the skin! Why not pour it into your bathtub and have a relaxing soak?

If you’re ever visiting a Sake brewery, be sure to check out the master Sake brewer’s hands!