The History of Sake

The history of sake is very long, dating back to the 3rd century B.C. when a method of rice planting was introduced to Japan.  It is believed that sake making in Japan started around the same time.

After 2000 years of using 100% pure rice, the production of Japanese sake was divided into 2 different types: Honjozo (with added alcohol) and Junmai (without added alcohol).  Although both styles of sake are extremely highly regarded, the Shimizu-No-Mai sakes are made with the more traditional Junmai technique.
Within the category of Junmai there are three different rankings.  The first is simply called “Junmai,” and represents sake that was made with rice milled to between 60-99% of its initial size.  This type of sake offers a very full and solid flavor profile.

The next ranking is “Junmai Ginjo,” which involves a more labor-intensive process to produce.  The rice is polished further than that of “Junmai,” and must be milled to between 50-60% of its original size.  This class of sake is more refined than the simple “Junmai” and is known for fruity characteristics.

The highest ranked sake is the super-premium “Junmai Daiginjo.”  This sake is brewed with highly polished rice, which must be no more than 50% of its original size.  These fragrant sakes are generally light, complex, and considered the pinnacle of the brewmaster’s art.