in ,

Is this the best Sake in the Japan? Try These & Decide for Yourself!

From beer, whiskey, sours, and more, the shelves of Japanese convenience stores and supermarkets brim with a tantalizing selection of unique, mouth-watering, and thrifty alcoholic drinks. However, to fully appreciate this rich diversity, you’ve got to go back to where it all started!

PhotoAC

Sake, or nihonshu, is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice and water with yeast and a unique mold called koji. While no longer in its heyday, with over 2,000 years of history, sake is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture with a big role in both formal and casual socializing. 

The Best Sake in the Japan

With such variety and history, diving into the world of sake can overwhelm the best of us! To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of the top 10 Sake in the Japan suited to both beginners and connoisseurs alike. With a wide selection of tastes, styles, and prices, there’s bound to be something for everyone!

Hakkaisan (Hakkaisan Brewery, Niigata)

cozymax/flickr

Nestled between the lush Japanese alps in the pristine prefecture of Niigata, Hakkaisan have been striving to develop the perfect sake in the Japan for almost 100 years. Through decades of trial-and-error alongside the best ingredients the region has to offer, the master brewers of Hakkaisan are able to yield sake of exceptional quality while keeping the prices down.

For a surefire hit on the cheaper side, try the Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Honjozo, which can be found at supermarkets and many convenience stores Japan-wide for under 1,300 yen (720ml).

    Taste: Crisp, clear, mellow

    Best Enjoyed: Lightly chilled or at room temperature

    Price (720ml): From 1,200 yen

    Website (ENG): https://www.hakkaisan.com/

    Dassai (Asahi Brewery, Yamaguchi)

    Sake in the Japan
    cozymax/flickr

      Hailing from the isolated prefecture of Yamaguchi, Dassai is a popular sake ever-present on the drink menus of izakaya, bars, and restaurants all throughout Japan. Most Dassai brews boast a full-bodied and sweet character complemented by enticing aromas that grow stronger every sip.

      Easy for beginners to handle, Dassai is a great accompaniment making good food taste even better. With a price range starting from 1,500 yen and reaching upwards of 20,000 (720ml), there’s a bottle of Dassai for all budgets and occasions! 

      Taste: Crisp, fruity, sweet

      Best Enjoyed: Slightly chilled 

      Price (720ml): From 1,500 yen

      Website (ENG): https://www.asahishuzo.ne.jp/en/

      Kayama (DHC Brewery, Niigata)

      Sake in the Japan
      Photo: Steve Csorgo

      Brewed entirely from Niigata’s own unique strain of sake rice, Kayama is a bubbly brew with a sophisticated sweetness and delightfully fruity undertone. There are two main versions of Kayama: the Junmai Ginjo, which is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and undiluted to yield a feisty, raw punch, while the slightly pricier and lightly carbonated Kayama Kameguchi boasts a more intense mouthfeel and full-bodied character. 

      Taste: Fruity, sweet, rich

      Best Enjoyed: Chilled 

      Price (720ml): Kayama Junmai Ginjo: From 1,590 yen, Kayama Kameguchi: From 2,000 yen 

      Website (JP): https://dhcshuzo.net/?mode=grp&gid=1580044

      Funaguchi Kikusui (Kikusui Brewery, Niigata)

      Photo: Steve Csorgo

        If you’re after a quick buzz that’s both delicious and high-quality, there’s no going wrong with Funaguchi Kikusui. Unlike its cheap and lacklustre one-cup competitors, Funaguchi boasts exceptional unpasteurized and unfiltered sake housed inside an eye-catching yellow aluminum can. Best of all, its whopping ABV of 19% allows partiers to get drunk without scrimping on quality.

        While there is a distinctive alcoholic burn, it soon gives way to an enticing sweetness with potent umami. Funaguchi Kikusui cans can be found at just about any convenience store or supermarket chain across Japan, making them a popular pre-drink before heading into bars or clubs. There are also carbonated versions available, which are even easier on the throat despite having the same alcohol content.

        Taste: Sweet, intense, alcoholic

        Best Enjoyed: Chilled 

        Price (200ml): From 272 yen

        Website (ENG): https://www.kikusui-sake.com/home/en/p/funaguchi_ichiban_shibori.html

        Nabeshima (Fukuchiyo Brewery, Saga)

        Sake in the Japan
        Photo: Steve Csorgo

          Brewed in Kyushu’s sake heartland of Saga Prefecture, Nabeshima is the go-to nihonshu for sommeliers seeking to showcase the distinctive umami taste of Japanese cuisine. Constantly reinventing itself to stay new and exciting, the Nabeshima range offers an impressive assortment of tastes achieved through ambitious experimentation with rice strains, milling levels, and fermentation yeasts.

          Highlights in the series include the Junmai Ginjo sake made from the super-popular Yamada Nishiki sake rice, along with Omachi, brewed from the exquisite and rare rice of the same name. 

          Taste: Sweet, fruity, packed with umami

          Best Enjoyed: Chilled 

          Price (720ml): From 1,900 yen

          Website (JP): https://nabeshima.biz/

          Isojiman (Isojiman Brewery, Shizuoka) 

          Sake in the Japan
          shiokuma/flickr

            Isojiman is a “phantom sake” only sold to certain suppliers who have met the brewery’s stringent criteria. Translating as “bay pride,” Isojiman was created to be enjoyed by the local fishermen of the brewery’s hometown whilst paying respect to its bountiful oceans. Isojiman brews tantalize with an alluring aroma of peach and banana, making them perfect appetizers to build up to dinner.

            Lacking the acidity prone to most sake, its deep taste, gentle sweetness, and refreshing character make it a delight for all palates.

            Taste: Sharp, fresh, a little sweet

            Best Enjoyed: Chilled 

            Price (720ml): From 1,900 yen

            Website (ENG): http://www.isojiman-sake.jp/en/

            Juyondai (Takagi Brewery, Yamagata)

            Sake in the Japan
            挪威 企鵝/flickr

              Juyondai is another “phantom sake” renowned across Japan. The brew was devised by 15th-generation head brewer Takagi Akitsuna, who returned to his family’s brewery in 1993 after a stint working and studying in Tokyo. Using his business sense combined with the knowledge gained at the Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Brewing Department, he was able to finally create the sake his family had always dreamed of. With deep savory flavors and a touch of sweetness,

              Juyondai epitomizes the “mellow umami” taste currently trending in Japan. Being extraordinarily pricey and rare, if someone offers you a taste, don’t hesitate! 

              Taste: Mellow, savory, and sweet

              Best Enjoyed: Room temperature or lightly chilled

              Price (720ml): From 16,000 yen

              Website: None

              No.6 (Aramasa Brewery, Akita)

              Hideya HAMANO/flickr

                The pinnacle of sophistication, Aramasa Brewery’s No. 6 series is the champagne of Japanese sake. Named after the yeast used in the fermentation process, which are given numbers in order of their discovery, this unpasteurized and all-natural sake is presented in a stylish bottle fitting of the fanciest establishments.

                There are three main types of No.6: the super-expensive X-type, the mid-tier S-type, and the reasonably-priced R-type. Each has a low 13% ABV and is lightly-carbonated, making it the ideal starter for those new to sake.

                Taste: Sweet and with a deep umami aftertaste 

                Best Enjoyed: Chilled 

                Price (720ml): From 10,000 yen (No.6 S-type)

                Website (JP): http://www.aramasa.jp/

                Hoken (Hoken Brewery, Hiroshima)

                PhotoAC

                  One of Hiroshima’s most iconic brews, Hoken is a well-priced sake made from pristine spring water fermented with the exceedingly rare, locally-developed Hattan Nishiki sake rice. While this rice is notoriously difficult to handle, it produces powerful, dynamic aromas with a brisk, dry taste complementing all kinds of cuisine.

                  Hoken Brewery also strives to preserve tradition by using antique koshiki steaming baskets while mashing their rice by hand. For those wanting to experience sake in its purest form, this is the brew for you.  

                  Taste: Dry, savory, well-balanced, with some sweeter brews available

                  Best Enjoyed: Room temperature or lightly chilled

                  Price (720ml): From 1,100 yen

                  Website: None

                  Koshi no Kanbai (Ishimoto Brewery, Niigata)

                  Photo: Steve Csorgo

                    While once rarely seen outside its hometown, Koshi no Kanbai is now enjoyed nationwide owing to a huge increase in supply and demand. The distinctive dry and sharp flavor, known as tanrei karakuchi, has become a sensation embodying the tastes and culture of Niigata.

                    The king of the Koshi no Kanbai lineup is the turquoise-colored Sai (from 1,862 yen), which boasts a potent savory aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for hours. For a cheaper yet equally delicious bottle, try the Koshi no Kanbai White.

                    Taste: Dry, crisp, packed with umami

                    Best Enjoyed: Room temperature, chilled, or lightly warmed

                    Price (720ml): From 1,100 yen (White Label)

                    Website (ENG): https://koshinokanbai.com/

                    PhotoAC

                    Just Scratching the Surface!

                    From the driest dries to the super-sweets, Sake in the Japan is awash with variety and versatility! Of course, not every sip will be to your liking, so don’t give up if you encounter a dodgy brew!

                    Experimenting to uncover your particular palate will open up a whole new world of Japanese culture, encouraging a deeper connection to the country through fun and drinking!

                    Written by Steve Csorgo

                    Comments

                    Loading…

                    Tokyo Nightclub

                    Top 10 Tokyo Nightclubs of 2024

                    New Video: This Is Nagoya’s Nightlife??