Sake Basic Ingredients

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Sake Basic Ingredients

Sake is Japan national drinks. What is the basic ingredients?


A special type of rice, which differs from traditional table rice, is used in the production of premium sake (nihonshu). The grains are larger and have less protein in their milky centres. These kinds of grains of rice aid and abet the production of koji-rice from which sake is produced later.

Different rice varieties thrive in specific climatic conditions – the soil quality also affects the properties of the rice.

The rice varieties are divided into various categories according to quality: Yamadanishiki is considered the king of the rices, followed by Gohyakumangoku, Omachi and finally Miyamanishiki and Hattannishiki.

Features of the rice varieties:

Yamadanishiki: fruity, vibrant, sophisticated
Gohyakumangoku: light, dry, very subtle
Dewa San San: fragrant, complex, broad variety of flavours from fruity to earthy with a present acidity
Omachi: full, mild, almost tart, excellent acidity
Miyamanishiki: balanced and mellow bouquets, enhancing acidity, versatile taste
Hattannishiki: subtle, velvety


In order to produce a sake of real quality, great importance has to be placed on the water that is used. The water content of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium helps the yeasts to grow and the clean yeast mould (koji) to develop. The amount of iron and manganese in the water should be as low as possible, as this can give the final product an unwanted brownish colour and adversely affect its taste and bouquet. Soft water is normally used in the production of sake.
Two of the most prominent brewing areas in Japan are Nada in the Hyogo Prefecture and Fushimi in Kyoto. The water sources in these areas are, according to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, among the best in the country.
Rice-koji is steamed rice that has been inoculated with the fungus or koji mould Aspergillus oryzae. During the fermentation process, the mould’s enzymes cause the starch molecules in the rice to turn into sugar molecules. These sugar molecules are in turn what feed the yeast cells. The choice of the type of mould affects the sweet-dry bouquet of the end result.

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