January 18, 2022

Sake (Nihonshu) or Japanese sake (Washu) usually refers to rice (mainly sake rice) and sake (seishu) whose main ingredients are koji and water. It is a sake brewed by a method peculiar to Japan and is classified as brewed sake.


Name / Name

In ancient Japanese, it was called "Sasa", in the Buddhist monk's jargon, "Hannyato", and in the Edo period, it was also called "Kichigaimizu". In modern times, it is sometimes called "ponshu" by young people. In the United States, "nihon-shu" is not common and is often called "SAKE".

Definition by the Liquor Tax Law and Alcohol Content

In Japan, the Liquor Tax Law is a comprehensive law for alcoholic beverages. In the law, "sake" means alcoholic beverages that meet the following requirements and have an alcohol content of less than 22% (Article 3.7). Rice, rice koji (jiuqu) and water are fermented and squeezed. Rice, rice koji, water and sake shavings and other articles specified by government ordinance are fermented and squeezed. "Synthetic sake" (No. 8 of the same article), which is a mixed sake that "has a flavor, color, and other properties similar to sake," is a type of sake that is made by adding sake residue to sake. There are some "other brewed sakes" such as Doburoku (No. 19 of the same Article). The alcohol content of general sake is 15 to 16%. In order to compete with consumers who prefer light liquor such as women and young people and Western liquor including exports, the alcohol content is in the 6-8% range, which is slightly higher than beer, and the same level as wine (in the low 10% range). ) Low-alcohol sake is also being developed and sold one after another. There is also a product with 5% for sparkling sake. On the contrary, it is technically possible to produce sake with an alcohol content (22% or higher) higher than the definition under the Liquor Tax Law by using the same raw materials and manufacturing method as sake. Some sake, such as "Echigo Samurai" (Tamagawa Sake Brewery), has an alcohol content of 46 degrees while being manufactured by the sake manufacturing method (manufacturing by adding alcohol to brewed raw sake and adding water) (3 under the Liquor Tax Law). Treated as liqueur of Article 21).


Specific name classification

Ordinary sake

Ordinary sake is sake other than the specific name sake described later. Most of the sake in circulation is classified as ordinary sake. In addition to rice, rice jiuqu, and water, sake lees (lees) and articles specified by Cabinet Order are used as raw materials (auxiliary raw materials). This article includes brewed alcohol, shochu, glucose and other sugars, organic acids, amino acid salts (such as umami seasonings) or sake (Article 2 of the Liquor Tax Law Enforcement Ordinance). These auxiliary ingredients are permitted to be used under the condition that their weight does not exceed the weight of rice and rice jiuqu (Liquor Tax Law, Article 3, Item 7 (b)). Triple-increased sake, or a blend of sake, is no longer included in the category of sake due to the revision of the Liquor Tax Law in 2006 (Heisei 18). Synthetic sake is not ordinary sake because it is not originally sake. Even sake whose manufacturing method and quality are equivalent to sake with a specific name may be sold as ordinary sake without displaying the specific name.

Specific name sake

Among those that meet the requirements for sake, those that meet certain standards for raw materials and manufacturing methods may be labeled with the specific name specified in the National Tax Agency Notification on the container or packaging. Sake with a specific name is called a specific name sake. For sake with a specific name, use brown rice rated at 3 mag or higher by rice grain inspection based on the Agricultural Products Inspection Law, or white rice obtained by polishing brown rice equivalent to this.

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