Sake 101

Bushido can on blue background

Here To Set The Record Straight

Sake isn't just the hot liquid in a carafe you get at your local sushi spot or the stuff you bombed in college. It's a Japanese tradition that dates back over 2,000 years and is hand-crafted specifically to compliment food.

Bushido is a Ginjo Genshu Junmai Sake - Let us Help Translate:

Ginjo:

  • This term in synonymous with premium sake. Ginjo is not a brand name, but a style/grade/class. Ginjo sake is to regular sake what single malt scotch is to regular scotch - meaning it's top shelf.
  • Ginjo means a least 40% of the rice was polished away, leaving a smoother, cleaner taste. Only 5.8% of sake made is milled to this rate!

Junmai:

  • Junmai is the Japanese word meaning “pure rice" and is brewed using only rice, water, yeast, and koji — there are no other additives, such as sugar or alcohol.

Genshu:

  • Most sake is diluted with water after being brewed to lower the alcohol content (just like a lot of the spirits you enjoy are!). If sake is labeled "Genshu" it means that it was not diluted at all, typically meaning it has about 18-20% alcohol by volume vs. a non-genshu sake at 14-16%. To give some context, that's about the same alcohol as 2 glasses of wine.

Sake is more like beer than wine:

  • Unlike wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting sugar that is naturally present grapes, sake is produced by a brewing process more like beer, where starch is converted into sugars which ferment into alcohol. 
  • The brewing process for sake differs from the beer process in that, for beer, the conversion from starch to sugar and from sugar to alcohol occurs in two distinct steps. When sake is brewed, these conversions occur simultaneously.
  • The alcohol content differs between sake, wine, and beer. Most beer contains 3–9%, wine generally contains 9–16%, and undiluted sake contains 18–20% (although this is often lowered to about 15% by diluting with water prior to bottling).

What sake is and isn't:

what sake is and isn't diagram


The Full Brewing Process:

sake brewing steps in a diagram

Learn more about the brewing process here.

Bushido GIF with pattern