Sake Vocabulary

This page aims to clarify a couple of terms that you may come across on a label. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it can serve as a quick guide. The Japanese characters are included as well for those who want to try their luck at Pictionary!

Daiginjo 大吟醸 sake with a polishing ratio of at least 50%

Futsushu 普通酒 ‘ordinary’ sake, sake that is not bound by the rules of only four ingredients, with the possibility to use additives

Genshu原酒 sake to which no water has been added to bring down the alcohol percentage

Ginjo –   吟醸 sake with a polishing ratio of at least 70%

Honjozo本醸造 sake to which a bit of neutral alcohol has been added, usually done to round out the flavor, not to significantly increase the alcohol percentage

Junmai 純米 ‘pure’ sake, made with only four ingredients: rice, water, yeast and kojikin

Kijoshu貴醸酒 sweet sake, made by adding sake instead of water during the fermentation stage

Kimoto The most traditional fermentation method, where the mixture of rice, koji and water was mashed to a paste, exposed to the air, in order to produce lactic acid from stray bacteria

Koshu 古酒 aged sake

Muroka無濾過 Sake that has not been filtered

Namazake生酒 Unpasteurized sake

Nihonshu日本酒 The Japanese term used for sake

Seimaibuai 精米歩合– The degree of polishing

Seishu清酒 – A legal term used for sake

Sokujo moto速醸 The most common product method where lactic acid bacteria as well as yeasts are added before the fermentation

Taruzake樽酒 sake that has been aged shortly in cedar wood

Yamahai山廃 an ‘intermediary’ fermentation method, were the use of a bit more water as well as playing with temperature would help in triggering a natural fermentation