The range and quality of sake is largely determined by the rice polishing ratio, variety of rice, variety of yeast and alcohol percentage. Depending on these factors, sake may be fruity or full-bodied, dry or sweet. When labeling sake, classification is determined by the rice polishing ratio, brewing technique, ingredients or a combination thereof.

Rice Polishing Ratio

  Rice Milling Ratio Characteristics

Brown Rice Rice Milling ratio 70%
Rice Milling ratio 50%

Daiginjo (Daiginjo-shu)

50% or less Ultra-premium sake slowly fermented at low
temperatures.Delicate aroma and mild flavor.

Ginjo (Ginjo-shu)

60% or less Premium sake carefully fermented to create a
refreshingly fruity aroma and mild flavor.

Daiginjo or Ginjo brewed without additional alcohol are called Junmai Daiginjo or Junmai Ginjo.



                                             Ingredient Characteristic


Rice and Water
"Literally “pure rice sake”, Junmai-shu is made only from rice and water. Using these ingredients, junmai sake is naturally brewed yielding a wide variety of sakes from light and mild to full-body.
Indication of rice milling ratio on label is needed."


Rice (milled to 70% or less), water and Limited Brewer's Alcohol Literally “formal brew [in comparison to futsu-shu] sake”, Honjozo-shu is made from rice milled to at least 70%, water and a small addition of brewer's alcohol. This addition of alcohol is a traditional technique for creating a mild sake.


Rice (not sepcified), water and Brewer's Alcohol Literally “ordinary sake”, Futsu-shu the most common type of sake in Japan, contains a small percentage of brewer's alcohol but does not have a specifically determined rice polishing ratio or brewing method. Futsu-shu is sold mainly in Japan but is exported to a limited number of other Asian countries.


Brewing Technique

                                                                                          Special Technique Characteristic

Nama Sake

Unpateurized Contemporary, unpasteurized “draft sake.” Immediately after fermentation is complete, this sake passes through micro ultra micro filters and is bottled unpasteurized. This process results in giving Nama Sake its fresh, fruity fragrance and smooth character.


One time heat pasteurized Sake aged for maturation and heat pasteurized shortly before bottling. Namachozo-shu is typified by its mellow flavor and fresh Nama Sake-like aroma.

Nigori Sake

Roughly filtered Literally “cloudy sake”, Nigori Sake is roughly filtered after fermentation is finished and rice texture from Moromi remains. Nigori has white and milky appearance.


Extra aging for years Aged sake made through a maturation process requiring more than three years to complete. This sake is best known for its fine harmonization of complex aromas and deep flavors. Possessing a favorable bitterness and pleasant lingering taste, ko-shu is reminiscent of sherry.


Changes in consumer tastes and advancements in brewing technology have made it possible for the diversification of sake varieties. Combining rice milling ratios with new brewing methods have made it possible to develop such new sakes as Junmai Nama Sake and Ginjo Koshu.