Sake is classified primarily based on two factors under the Tokutei Meishoshu system established by the National Tax Agency in 1992. Those two factors are 1) whether a small amount of brewer’s alcohol has been added, and 2) the milling rate of the sake rice.
Tokutei Meishohu classifies specially designated sake as premium sake. Premium sake can only be made with rice, water, koji, yeast, and in some cases, brewer’s alcohol. Also, koji must comprise at least 15% of the total rice used.
Normal, or table sake, is known as futsushu and is not classified under the tokutei meishoshu system as a special designation sake.
The Tokutei Meishoshu Classification System for Premium Sake
*The Tokubetsu grade has three qualifications (one of the 3 qualities apply):
1. The rice is polished to below 60%
2. The sake uses only sake-specific rice
3. The sake was produced using a special process that is legally recognized as such.
** Junmai is not subject to a required polishing ratio