Q&A

1. What sort of thing is "akibare (fine autumn day)" for sake?
It expresses that sake, pasteurized and stored in the spring, has come to have a good quality with maturity and a mellow taste with the coming of autumn. "Akibare" also means the same thing as "akiagari." The sake of Nada produced with "hard" water that includes mineral components such as calcium, potassium, phosphorous, etc., in abundance, is particularly said to underscore "akibare."
2. I heard that a day celebrating sake ("Nihonshu no hi") exists. When is it?
This day has been set by the sake industry as October 1. The right side character in the "kanji" of sake indicates the 10th (i.e., October) sign of the twelve signs of the zodiac; originally, this came from the fact that it had meant sake in the hieroglyph to express a jar. In addition, October denotes the period when sake brewing begins, as was determined in 1978.
Reference material: Nihonshu Saijiki
3. What is "nihonshudo," i.e., the "sake meter value"?
"Nihonshudo" is considered to be one of the indicators of the sweetness and dryness of Japanese sake; it uses the specific gravity of water at 4°C is assumed to be zero. A greater specific gravity value is said to be on the "minus" side and a lower value is said to be on the "plus" side. Because the sweetness of Japanese sake is derived from sugar, the greater the content of sugar is the larger (i.e., heavier) the specific gravity becomes; the "sake meter value" goes to the "minus" side. Accordingly, generally speaking, an increasing "plus" reading indicates a greater dryness, and a decreasing "minus" reading indicates a greater sweetness. Actually, however, how one feels about the sweetness or dryness also differs depending on the amount of acidity in the sake. When the acidity is high, one is said to feel dryness, and when it is low, one is said to feel sweetness..
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
Sweet Slightly sweet Neutral Slightly dry Dry
Reference material:
Collection of Terms for the Sake of Nada and Nihonshudo Dokuhon
4. How is the "sweetness" or "dryness" of sake determined?
Sake feels sweet if the amount of sugar is high, and feels dry if the amount of sugar is low. However, like the senses, because the concentration and temperature of sake, and the acidity, influence each other in a complex way, some sake with the same sugar quantity may at times feel different. It is not easy to discriminate and say this is in the direction of sweetness or this is dry in the case of sake, and so comparisons are persistently made on what is sweet and what is dry.
5. What does "acidity" mean?
"Acidity" expresses the amount of "organic acids" such as succinic acids, apple acids and lactic acids, that are contained in the sake. These acids are important ingredients that compose the taste of the sake.
Reference material: Collection of Terms for the Sake of Nada
6. What is a good way to preserve sake that has been opened? And about how long is that sake good for?
Because various germs enter when sake is opened and there is a strong smell in the immediate vicinity and the smell moves to the sake, after drinking sake, the best recommendation is to cover it at once and quietly maintain the sake in a cool and dark location. In addition, because the flavor of sake changes after it is opened, the best way to enjoy any sake is to drink it as soon as possible.
7. In what way can I preserve sake?
Sake is mainly influenced by the factors of "temperature" and "light" which cause changes to occur to the fragrance and taste. Therefore, please do not store sake in a location where the temperature becomes high or in a location directly exposed to sunlight. The ideal location is a "cool and dark" place.
8. Why is sake weak against light?
Japanese sake degrades when it is exposed to light such as sunlight or fluorescence light. In fact, it becomes yellowish and comes to have an offensive smell; called "nikkou-shuu." This is because ultraviolet rays chemically change the amino acids and vitamins contained in sake. Therefore, because it is easy for a transparent bottle to let through ultraviolet rays, be particularly careful of where your sake is kept.
9. Is there a way to make warm or hot sake in a microwave oven?
When heating sake in a "tokkuri" vessel, when the "tokkuri" is placed in a microwave oven as is, a temperature difference occurs at the top and the bottom of the "tokkuri." The temperature becomes uniform when aluminum foil is wrapped around the top part on the "tokkuri" where it is thin. Because the time to leave the "tokkuri" in the microwave oven varies depending on the type and size of the "tokkuri," the type of microwave oven, etc., please take sufficient care so as not to overheat the "tokkuri" by referring to the operations manual of the microwave oven.
10. What kind of sake is "namachozo-shu (fresh storage sake)" and "namazake (fresh sake)"?
It is possible to say that "namazake" is sake that is not absolutely processed in the heating until it is filled into bottles or packing after being made, i.e., "just-born sake." Such a type of sake is characterized by a "fresh flavor."
"Namachozo-shu" is the same as "namazake" up to the point of low-temperature storage as "live sake" after becoming sake, but it differs in the point of when the heat processing is performed during the packing process. Because it is stored as it is (i.e., fresh), it is the same as "namazake" and is characterized by a "fresh flavor."
11. How can one drink "namachozo-shu (fresh storage sake)" and "nama-zake (fresh sake)" deliciously?
These types of sake are characterized as "fresh," making the most of a "just-squeezed" flavor. When consumed cold, each type brings out that flavor. Please cool the sake by cooling the container in a refrigerator or in water with ice, pour it in a sake cup or wine glass that provides a transparent impression and drink it.
12. Is there a way to drink sake to maintain one's health?
Moderate sake improves the circulation of blood, it relieves stress and improves the appetite, and indeed, "sake is the length of 100 pieces of medicine." It is first for all of this. It is important that "appropriate drinking" be defended.
In fact, let's try to drink while keeping the proper quantity ("ichigo" (0.18l) or "nigo" (0.36l)), provide two days of rest a week, and to delightfully drink sake while enjoying food. In addition, it is recommended to receive physicals at regular intervals to check the liver, etc., and to take care of oneself.
Reference material: Nihonshu Dokuhon
13. Is it true that one becomes fat by drinking sake?
Alcohol becomes an energy source even if it is absorbed by the body, but it does not become a component of the body. To become fat or not to become fat, is not limited to refined sake, and the problem is whether the starch and fatty parts taken in with the alcohol and the amount of calories are large or small.
14. What kind of person is a "toji"?
A person responsible for the seasonal employees who engage in the sake making at a sake brewery in the winter season, a person aware of sake making techniques and with a sake making sense due to years of experience, a person able to lead the seasonal employees and a person who works to make the most delicious sake. At HAKUTSURU, there are two facilities where sake making is done only in the winter season, and there are two "toji." Both are "Tamba toji," but "Tajima and Echigo toji," "Noto toji" and "Nanbu toji" among others are also famous.
15. Is sake made only in the winter?
To brew high quality sake, it is necessary for the environmental conditions to be arranged so that the temperature is low and few germs exist. To do this long ago, sake was made only in the winter time to arrange for these conditions. At present, a number of brewers make sake only in the winter time, but at HAKUTSURU, sake is made throughout the year with a four-season sake making facility where the ideal environment is prepared artificially for sake making.