With over 2,000 years of history, Japan has a wide variety of sake and interesting cultures surrounding it. However, that also makes it difficult for many people to choose to buy sake to enjoy as well as as a gift! To help you understand more about this drink, we have put together an introductory list of the top 10 sake brands in Japan that you should enjoy. Japanese sake not only has many famous brands, but also has more flavors than any other drink, from the pungent to the delicately sweet,… Let’s find out now!
Top 10 Sake Brands In Japan That You Should Enjoy
1. Dassai (Asahi Winery, Yamaguchi)
As one of the top 10 sake brands in Japan, Dassai appears on the menus of thousands of restaurants and izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) across Japan.
There are many different types of Dassai, usually priced from 2,000 to more than 30,000 yen a bottle, with a sweet taste and quite strong alcohol smell.
Dassai is considered a fairly light and easy-to-drink wine made from the quality Yamada Nishiki rice variety known for being difficult to grow. It is also the first sake brand in Japan.
2. Hakkaisan (Hakkaisan Winery, Niigata)
Taking advantage of the natural waters of the nearby Alps, the Hakkaisan brand produces spirits from the natural resources of its homeland.
The wineries from the company always have the best ingredients and the most modern technological machinery system to produce high-class products. Hakkaisan is at the forefront of innovation with its “snow brewed sake” that is aged for 3 years in a room cooled by natural snow.
Not only that, but even their bottom shelf “futsushu” has an impressive rice polishing rate of 60% – much higher than sake in the same price range.
3. Kokuryu (Kokuryu Winery, Fukui)
Kokuryu is one of Japan’s most popular wine producers, commonly known as “ghost sake” due to its scarcity and high price tag.
The brand’s famous “Jungin” sake is brewed from rice with a relatively high polishing rate of 55% before being fermented at low temperatures to create a sake that is delicate and can be enjoyed with many kinds of food.
The producers of Kokuryu pay special attention to their ingredients and usually only use natural water from the Kuzuryu River of Fukui Prefecture and rice from the Ono countryside in Eastern Fukui to make their wine.
4. Nabeshima (Fukuchiyo Winery, Saga)
Nabeshima is a sake brand that is highly regarded by international connoisseurs. The delicate fruitiness and sweetness of this brand’s umami-flavored wine make it an ideal “beginner” wine for first-timers.
There are many different flavors of alcohol depending on the type of rice used for production as well as the brewing technique, most notably the unpasteurized sake, which is dripped in a cloth bag using the “shizuku” technique.
5. Suzune (Ichinokura Winery, Miyagi)
Suzune has a fruity taste and is often served at parties on special occasions. Packed in small 300ml bottles with an ABV of only 5%, this wine is suitable for those with low alcohol intake. After the wine is poured into the glass, you will feel the aroma of the aromatic fruit and will want to try a sip.
Although it comes in a small bottle, Suzune costs almost as much as some 720ml sake, but it has a delicious taste and attractive design that is sure to leave you satisfied.
6. Funaguchi Kikusui (Kikusui Winery, Niigata)
Kikusui distillery’s Funaguchi liquor is commonly sold in convenience stores and supermarkets throughout Japan.
The wine wasn’t very popular in the past, but Kikusui remedied it by pouring unfiltered, unpasteurized premium sake into stylish UV-resistant aluminum cans.
The wine has an extremely high ABV of 19% which produces a fairly strong and intense alcohol taste, but the sweet aftertaste makes it surprisingly easy to drink. In addition, there are also wines with soda but still keeping the ABV level, which is also highly appreciated.
7. Koshi no Kanbai (Ishimoto Winery, Niigata)
Koshi no Kanbai is considered the signature sake of Niigata Prefecture.
Nowadays, you can find this kind of sake just about anywhere. Koshi no Kanbai has a distinctive Niigata “their karakuchi” flavor, with a dry (not sweet) taste and a strong umami taste.
In general, the Koshi no Kanbai line of liquor is very diverse, with both affordable and premium types, often distinguished by stickers. For those with a “limited budget”, Koshi no Kanbai White can be considered a suitable choice.
If you’re looking for something more upscale, the elegant turquoise Koshi no Kanbai Sai is the right sake for you!
8. Isojiman (Isojiman Winery, Shizuoka)
Isojiman meaning “pride of the sea”, is a wine brewed in honor of the rich, seafood-rich beaches in Shizuoka Prefecture – home of the Yaizu distillery.
The wine is aged with delicate fruit aromas, often the wine of choice for local fishermen to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The rice used to brew this wine is quality rice grown in Hyogo Prefecture, and the yeast used in the brewing is locally produced, which stabilizes the flavor and makes the wine taster.
To maintain the high standard of products, Isojiman sake is only sold to a few pre-approved suppliers, so it is often difficult to find.
9. No.6 (Aramasa Winery, Akita)
No.6 is a type of wine that often appears at the most luxurious restaurants because they are contained in bottles with sophisticated design and class features.
The name No.6 comes from the name of the yeast, which is named after the number based on the time of invention and development of the wine. No.6 is produced at the Aramasa winery and is very popular for its technology to filter rice essence in its purest form.
With a fairly strong taste and high acidity, No.6 wine is a combination of white wine and traditional sake. This wine is also mildly carbonated and goes well with peaches and strawberries.
10. Hiroki (Hiroki Winery, Fukushima)
Having “stormed” with the product with the long-standing “Izumikawa” sake, this winery has been in operation for a long time and had a not-so-smooth time. After that, the successor of the distillery launched a new wine called “Hiroki”. Immediately, this wine became a famous beverage nationwide, favored for its delicate taste that combines sweetness and umami, so it is very suitable to enjoy with many different dishes.
The Hiroki range of liquor comes in a variety of flavors, with the highlight being “Tokubetsu Junmai” which is reasonably priced, easy to drink, and suits many people’s tastes. However, this product is quite rare, so it is difficult for even locals to find Hiroki.
Above are the top 10 sake brands in Japan that you should try. Save it now and if you have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy them to understand more about Japanese culinary culture!