5 Best Sake You Should Try In Japan
Updated: Jul 19
With over 2,000 years of history, the Japanese sake (pronounced as “sah-keh”) has become a legacy — being recognized as one of the most popular drinks worldwide. What once was a religious offering to gods in the ancient times is now a highly sought-after drink, with more than 50 sake brands to choose from.
It comes as a challenge especially for beginners on their first Tokyo Tour. While almost every restaurant serves sake but the question is, which ones are worth-tasting?
In this article, we’ve narrowed down your options and have listed down 5 kinds of sake to consider on your first trip to Japan:
Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 50
Dassai is a well-known brand in Japan that produces sake for “sipping.” As their brand vision goes, “we brew sake for sipping, not sake for drinking, not sake for selling.” This Japan brand makes use of traditional methods of brewing so it’s a must to put this sake on top of your list of drinks.
Their popular Junmai Daiginjo 50 is characterized by its engaging and refreshing flavor — making it a well-known sake among experts and consumers. It’s also good with food and definitely delicious to taste either cold or warm.
Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo
Having a taste of this smooth, mild-tasting sake reminds one of a cold, clear day during winter season. After all, it’s aged in their brewery’s snow-storage room (called the Yukimoro for a minimum of 3 years. Therefore it results in a gentle yet fascinating aroma — embodying the clean, cold air of the region.
Because of its light flavor, it’s best paired with grilled fish and sashimi. Women love it and even those who don’t drink sake know all about the popularity of the Hakkaisan brand.
Kubota Senju "1000 Lives"
Alongside Hakkaisan, Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing is one of Japan’s largest manufacturing companies of sake in Japan. Their so-called golden sake is the Kubota Senju that boasts a one-of-a-kind, irresistible flavor.
You’ll never get tired of its refreshing, smooth taste with aromas of nutmeg, dried fruit, minerals, ripe plum and banana cream pie. Its aftertaste, however, is reminiscent of cotton candy. Whether paired with salty or savory food, this is a perfect example of a layered sake.
Suigei Tokubetsu Junmai “Drunken Whale”
The Suigei Tokubetsu Junmai is said to have been “brewed for whales” found off the coast of Kochi prefecture — the region with the highest per-capita consumption of sake in Japan. It was probably named that way because of its strong presence of fennel — very dry throughout the mouth and surprisingly powerful.
After all, the brewery does recommend that the drink is best consumed by serious sake drinkers. Drinkers who prefer “clean and crisp” beverages will be fans of this flavorful drink.
Nihon Sakari “Gokun” Hanjozo
If you’re not a fan of hot sake and having a cold sake is not your best option when you’re on a cold night tour in Tokyo, then you better go for a warmed cup of sake instead. On top of the list of warmed brews is the Nikon Sakari “Gokun” Hanjozo.
Soft and sweet like light nougat and marshmallows, it has an amazing velvety touch that feels good on the mouth. As it perfectly blends sweetness with the richness of the brew, no wonder it has won Japan’s heated sake competition for two years straight!
Get a unique experience in your Tokyo tour by going on a sake tasting trip. Don’t limit yourself with this list and research which drink will likely suit your taste. Or better yet, ask locals to get firsthand tips about the Japanese sake!
But to learn more about the history of this beloved drink, take a free walking tour to Meiju Jingu Shrine. Get your questions answered and find out more city secrets and travel tips by joining one of Tokyo's free walking tours.
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