top of page

Sake Terms

The following are a bunch of basic terms that have to do with sake. 

Arabashiri - Also known as rough run or first run sake.  This is sake that when makes it through the sake press by gravity alone.  No actual pressing by the machine is done yet.

Aruten - Sake with brewer’s alcohol added.


Atsukan (kanzake) – Warmed sake


Brewer’s alcohol - A neutral spirit added to sake to help bring out extra aroma or taste to sake.


Daiginjo - Sake that has been made with rice that has polished to at least 50%. It may be made without brewers alcohol. The labor for this type of sake is done without machines and is very demanding.


Futsushu - Non-premium sake.  It is ordinary sake or “table sake.”


Genshu - Sake that has not been diluted.


Ginjo - Sake that has been made with rice that has polished to at least 60%. It may be made with or without brewer’s alcohol.


Hiyaoroshi - A type of seasonal sake that usually comes out in the fall.  It is typically brewed and stored in the spring, aged over the summer and released in the fall. Most are namazakes.


Honjozo - Sake that has been produced with a small amount of brewer’s alcohol.  The rice must be polished to at least 70%.


Jizake - This is local sake.  


Junmai - It is a descriptor that means “Pure rice sake.”  The ingredients in this type of sake are only rice, water, koji, and yeast. There is no brewer’s alcohol added to the sake.

It is also a type of premium sake. The rice in this sake has no polishing requirement.

Karakuchi - A term that is used to describe dry sake.

Kasu (sake kasu) -  The left-over rice solids (or lees) left behind after pressing the sake.

Kimoto – A method of introducing a natural lactic acid bacterium into sake.  Typically, wooden paddles are used to smash up the rice when it is mixed with the water, rice, and koji.


Koji (koji rice) – Rice that has been inoculated with koji-kin.


Koji-kin - This is a type of mold used to break down the starches in the rice so it could eventually be converted to alcohol by the yeast.


Koshu - This is sake that been aged for a minimum of 3 years.


Kurabito - The Japanese term for the brewery employees making the sake


Muroka - Sake that has not been filtered. 


Nama Sake - This is general term  describing a sake that was not pasteurized. There are 3 types of namazake (namazake,

namachozo, and namazume).   


Namachozo - Sake that is only pasteurized right before bottling.


Namazake - 100% unpasteurized sake.


Namazume - Sake that is only pasteurized after being filtered.


Nigorizake - This is a coarsely filtered filtered sake.  The coarse filtering allows some of pieces of rice to remain in the sake.  It usually looks cloudy.


Nihonshu - This the Japanese word for sake


Nihonshu-do - This is a number given to sake.  It is an indicates how sweet or how dry the sake is.  It is a positive or negative number.  The lower the number the sweeter the sake tastes and the higher the number the dryer the sake tastes.  (Also known as SMV)


Sakamai - Rice that is exclusively for sake brewing.


Sanmi - This is the Japanese term for the acidity of the sake.  


Seimaibuai - This is the Japanese term for rice polishing.  When we talk about polishing rice in sake you usually see a percentage. If you see it has been polished 65%, that means there is 65% of the piece of grain remaining.  It means the outer 35% was removed.  The reason it gets removed is to make it easier to get to the starches contained in each rice grain.


Seishu – The legal term for sake in Japan.  It also means “clear sake”.


Shiboritate - This refers to sake that has been freshly pressed.


Shinpaku – The part of a sakamai grain where all the starch is concentrated.


SMV - This another term for nihonshu-do. It stands for Sake Meter Value.


Toji - This is the Japanese term for the head brew master.  The toji is overall in charge of the sake brewing. 


Tokubetsu - This is a word for special in Japanese. It usually indicates that there was a "special" method used when producing the sake.


Yamahai - It is similar to kimoto, but they do not use paddles to smash up the rice.

bottom of page