October 1st is World Sake Day and heralds the beginning of the sake making season in Japan. A wonderfully varied beverage with many styles, sake is a perfect way to toast the beginning of the autumnal season.
Sake is not an easy beverage to make, and there are many, many styles. What you should know is that the highest classification is Junmai which is pure and unadulterated, similar to what you want in a 100% blue agave tequila. You don’t get additional flavorings, colorings or alcohol added into the mix, which indicates a less than stellar product. Low end sakes are the ones served hot to cover up their inadequacies. Junmai Ginjo is made from rice that has been polished to such a high degree that it loses 45% of it’s outer covering, leaving only the heart of the rice. This is then fermented not only using yeast, but also a proprietary domesticated fungus called Koji (Aspergillus oryzae). Sounds weird, but this combination is so efficient at turning rice sugars into alcohol, that you end up with an initial alcohol level of 14-20%. So, kudos for fungus!