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What are the 10 most popular Japanese sake brands? New poll reveals the favorites of sake lovers

By Ingrid Tsai, SoraNews24

Japanese sake is renowned worldwide for its richness and complex taste profile. However, despite the all-you-can-drink sake happenings in Tokyo, it can be daunting for first-timers to enter the world of Japanese sake. Maybe you want to try them all or maybe you only want to try the best brands, which leads to the question: what are the best Japanese sake brands?

Voice Note, a polling site, recently held a survey on which brand of sake folks like to drink the most. Votes were tallied and in-depth opinions were collected from 945 individuals who drink habitually. Without further ado, here’s the top 10 most popular Japanese sake brands, starting from No. 10.

Maru (Hakutsuru Sake Brewery) -- 10th

Nihon Sakari (Nihon Sakari Co) -- 9th

Sho Chiku Bai (Takara Shuzo) -- 8th

Koshi no Kanbai (Ishimoto Sake Brewery) -- 7th

Gekkeikan (Gekkeikan Sake Company) -- 6th

Kiku-Masamune (Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery) -- 5th

Image: Kiku-Masamune

Starting in more detail from spot number five we have Kiku-Masamune, a sake from Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery based in Hyogo Prefecture. Brewed with locally grown rice and spring water from Hyogo Prefecture’s iconic Mount Rokko, Kiku-Masamune sake has an overall well-rounded taste with undertones of Yoshino cedar. Neither too sharp nor light, one of the sake’s appeal points is also how well it complements the lighter dishes of Japanese cuisine, such as soba or sashimi.

Kenbishi (Kenbishi Sake Brewery) -- 4th

Image: Kenbishi

With a striking sword-like motif emblazoned on its bottles, the appeal points of Kenbishi sake lie in its unique coloration and long history. Compared to your typical sake brands, this variety isn’t transparent–depending on the specific bottle, the liquid can vary in color from a refreshing pale yellow to a warm amber brown. Kenbishi sake has also been brewed for over 500 years, with the brewery’s inception year traced all the way back to 1505. The brewery highlights its resilience in creating high quality sake throughout five centuries, and paired with its smooth flavor profile, we can see how Kenbishi sake landed in the top five.

Kubota (Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewery) --3rd

Image: Asahi Shozu Online Shop

Coming in at number three is Kubota by Asahi Shuzo, a Niigata-based brewery with a reputation for being especially particular about how it sources the rice for its sake. Asahi Shozu works closely with local rice farmers, constantly experimenting novel flavor profiles for their sake while retaining traditional brewing methods. When it comes to taste, the Kubota has a light and refreshing finish as well as a deep, tender crispness. Other qualities fans admired about Kubota sake is its nearly translucent appearance, its rich scent, and its relatively cheap price compared to other sake brands.

Hakkaisan (Hakkaisan Brewery) -- 2nd

Many fans of Hakkaisan sake cited its taste and how easy it was to down with some voters even comparing it to water. Most importantly, Hakkaisan sake pairs exceptionally well with food. In the case of Japanese cuisine, where fresh ingredients are paramount and delicate flavors are carefully balanced, how one pairs their sake with their meals is important. Hakkaisan sticks out as a sake with a distinctly sweet but not overpowering taste, no doubt a favorite at long banquets or occasions calling for a toast. Another factor for its popularity is its ingredients: Hakkaisan is brewed with spring water from its namesake, the famous Mount Hakkai of Niigata Prefecture, and locally grown rice.

1. Dassai (Asahi Shuzo) [on the right, milkshake version on the left]


And at number one, produced by Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi Prefecture, is Dassai sake. Commonly considered Japan’s number one sake brand and at times notoriously difficult to taste test, Dassai packs a fruity flavor profile and a smooth, refined finish. Many voters commented on how easy it is to drink, while also praising its vibrant rice undertones and refined aroma.

So there you have it–the top 10 most popular brands of sake, as voted by imbibers in Japan. You can’t go wrong with any of these varieties, and if you’re looking for some very Japanese pairing suggestions, this list of top snacks for drinking will help to expand your horizons as you explore all those complex flavors.

Source: Voice Note via PR Times

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Sake on ice! Akita sake brewery has special brewing process that is spinning up tons of interest

-- Japanese sake breaks new ground with a variety specially blended to pair well with chocolate

-- Japan’s most popular sake brand runs full-page ad asking people to stop paying so much for it

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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80% is water. 20% Rice into Sugar.

Last time i boiled 20ml Sake straight from the bottle and drank, only first sip tasted good.

I think Sake lovers should try Makgeolli (Korean) and Chhyaang (Nepalese)

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

BackpackingNepal- Sake loses lts flavor when heated which is why when you order ( atsukan ) hot sake in a restaurant, they use the cheap stuff as you can't tell the difference. The majority of Nihonshu is best drunk at room temperature, Some work better refrigerated.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If you're "boiling your sake straight from the bottle", you shouldn't be commenting on it in the first place.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm surprised Jozen Mizunogotoshi from Niigata wasn't included on the list. It's a wonderfully refreshing drink. I also read recently that No. 1 on the list, Dassai, has obtained kosher certification and can be safely consumed during the Passover holidays.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Meaningless list if you ask me.

There are around 2000~5000 labels with various different type of sake based on the polishing rate, type of yeast, fermentation method, if it was watered down, fortified, vintage, etc.

As for warm sake, you are not supposed to boil it, just warm it to around the same as body temperature.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry i meant to say i warmed up but last time it got little bit boiled up. Yes i do know it's best served chilled but prefer warm sake during the chilly weather and thanks for the other brands of nihonshu.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The No 5. to No 10. mentioned on this list are the big breweries like Budweiser and/or other big names.

They are famous of their marketing power not necessarily for the refined nuances within the beverage they offer.

I will take a small scale posh brewery that makes small batches over these big names any day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Watch BS6 on Monday evenings at 9pm. Yoshida Rui will teach you about Sake. The man is brilliant.

During my travels with my spouse we always pick up a few small bottles of Sake to bring back monthly to try and some are brilliant. Especially the nigori craft brands.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am admittedly a little, pleasantly, surprised to see Hakkaisan clocking in at number two.

I don't think it is one of the best nihonshu for sure, but it is still pretty darn good and, maybe more importantly, readily available. Not hard to find whatsoever and just a good brand to keep a bottle or two around of.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For good sake, I look for a region which offers both good rice and water.

One of my preferred locations is Niigata, though there are many locations also offering a quality product.

Just like wine and whisky appreciation, there are many varieties of Nihonshu to enjoy (in moderation).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of my preferred locations is Niigata, though there are many locations also offering a quality product.

The water tastes wonderful in Niigata - like drinking fresh spring water - actually it probably is fresh spring water. The stuff that comes out of the tap in Tokyo tastes of chemicals.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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