Words to Know
Namazake – “raw sake” is unpasteurized and must be kept refrigerated at all times. Namazake usually has a livelier, more robust and fresher taste and is usually released in the spring each year. Pasteurized sake goes through pasteurization two times and is referred to as “hiirezake.” Two variations of namazake are nama-chozo and nama-zume, which pasteurize sake only one time. Nama-chozo sake is usually stored for a few months after pressing, then pasteurized once right before bottling and shipment, and nama-zume is pasteurized once right before storage. Nama-zume sake is also known as hiyaoroshi which is usually released each autumn.
Nigorizake – sake that is usually run through a coarser filter allowing some of the sake lees to flow through with the sake, thus leaving a cloudy appearance. Some people may occasionally see the term “doburoku” which is not legally considered sake, but it is the moromi that is bottled and unfiltered.
Nihonshu – Japanese sake
Nihonshudo – also known as Sake Meter Value (SMV) measures specific gravity of sake and is used as a sweetness/dryness indicator. The higher the number, the drier the sake. A dry sake is called karakuchi, while a sweeter sake is called amakuchi.
Ochoko – small cups used for drinking sake.
Sakagura – sake brewery
Sandan Jikomi – three-stage mashing which refers to the addition of sake ingredients (water, koji, rice) into the fermentation batch (moromi) in three stages over 4 days. Yeast and koji are allowed to multiply over four days so that yeast and koji will not be overwhelmed and diluted over a single addition at once.
Seimaibuai – rice polishing percentage or ratio.
Seishu – refined sake or clear sake, one of the official names of sake in Japan (the other is Nihonshu)
Shubo (or Moto) – the yeast starter batch in sake production where yeast is added to koji and water which allows yeast to multiply before adding the full amount of steamed rice for a full fermentation batch.
Sugidama – a globe of sugi (Japanese cedar) leaves and branches that is usually assembled at sake breweries at the start of each brewing season in October. As the leaves turn from green to brown, it is said that the sake that was started at the beginning of the brewing season is now ready to drink.