How to Tell Good Japanese Sake? Monthly Sake Subscription Service (Only Authentic Sake)

How to Tell Good Japanese Sake from fake Sake? Monthly Real Sake Subscription Service

How to Find Best Japanese Sake?

It is true that you can not easily get "real" Sake outside of Japan. Even if you go around in Japan, you may not get it from a normal Izakaya (a Japanese bar).


Sake in general is tasty and we have nothing against the non-real sake but if you want to find out if you are drinking  a real one or not, here is our tip.


To find a great and high quality Sake takes quite effort based on the rich experience where one tasting a lot of Sake over a long period.


But here is the simple way.


Check the label and see which rank the sake belongs to.  


The rank is based on several elements such as how natural the sake is made (less chemical, the better), type of rice and how much the rice is polished (the more polished, the better).


If you are interested, you can try our "real" sake subscription service to get the authentic sake monthly directly from Japan.

Check and/or Ask the ranking on the label

1. 純米大吟醸酒 Junmai-Daiginjo-shu

Generally speaking the best of the best. 

The rice is polished to 50% or less than 50% of its original size


2. 大吟醸酒 Daiginjo-shu

The rice is polished to 50% or less than 50% of its original size


3. 純米吟醸酒 Junmai-Ginjo-shu

The rice is polished to 60% or less than 60% of its original size


4. 吟醸酒 Ginjo-shu

The rice is polished to 60% or less than 60% of its original size


If you are in overseas, you may not see any of these rank of sake unfortunately. 


If you see any other label than the above such as 清酒 seishu, 純米酒 Junmai-shu, 本醸造酒 Honjozo-shu or even no rank information, you can think you are not drinking the best.

type of rice

If you are not tired of asking (or showing off your knowledge about Sake rank!), you can also ask what type of rice the sake is made from.  


You ask the restaurant or sake shop, which rice is the sake made of. If the sake is made of the following, you expect the quality is high.


Here is the list of best rice for Sake making:


1. 山田錦 Yamada-nishiki

The best of the best. 80% of Yamada-nishiki grows in Hyogo prefecture. The best from this best is considered to be from the " special A area/ 特A地区". It is difficult to grow this rice.


2.五百万石 Gohyakuman-goku

If the king of west is Yamada-nishiki, the king of the east is this. It is mainly from Niigata prefecture.


3.美山錦 Miyamanishiki

It is mainly from Nagano prefecture. It means "beautiful mountain". It grows in area surrounded by the beautiful mountains.


4. 雄町 Omachi

It is mainly from Okayama prefecture. This rice is the parent of Yamada-nishiki and Goyakuman-goku by species.


5. 八反錦 Hattan-nishiki

It is mainly from Hiroshima prefecture. You can polish this rice a lot but does not get too fragile.


NOTE: Please understand these information is based on the reputation we hear. It is not ultimate and official decision on the quality. If you like the taste, that is the best sake.


Examples of 純米大吟醸酒 Junmai-Daiginjo-shu

Based on the above rank, the best of the best Sake rank is Junmai-daiginjo-shu. If you google it, you may find the seller. It usually costs around 300USD - more than 1000USD per bottle (0.7 litter to 1.8 litter or so).

Popular Sake Makers/brands in Japan

Do you want to know which Sake is most popular and considered to be high quality in Japan? Here is the list.

1. 獺祭 Dassai

Dassai from Asahi sake factory (Not the beer company), Yamaguchi prefecture.

est. 1948

Note: this factory only produces the highest rank sake (Junmai-Daiginjo-shu, check above, if you miss the relevant info). The company policy is to produce sake for tasting/enjoyment not for drinking/getting drunk.

2.十四代 Juyondai

Juyondai from Takagi sake factory, Yamagata prefecture

est. 1615

Note: Juyondai means "14th". The brand name used to be "Asahi Daka". When 14th owner Mr. Takagi giving the title to the 15th owner, this sake was named " 14th - Juyondai ".

3. 醸し人九平次 KamoshibitoKuheiji

Kamoshibitokuheiji from Banjou sake factory, Aichi prefecture

est. 1960

Note: Served in Guy Savoy in France

4. 黒龍 Kokuryu

Kokuryu from Kokuryu sake factory, Fukui prefecture

est. 1804

5. 田酒 Denshu

Denshu from Nishida sake factory, Aomori prefecture


6. 久保田 Kubota

Kubota from Asahi sake factory (not the beer company, not the same sake company above), Niigata prefecture

est. 1830

7. 出羽桜 Dewazakura

Dewazakura from Dewazakura sake factory, Yamagata prefecture

8. 鳳凰美田 Houou-biden

Houou-biden from Kobayashi sake factory, Tochigi prefecture

9. 〆張鶴 Shimeharitsuru

Shimeharitsuru from Miyao sake factory, Niigata

10. 八海山 Hakkaisan

Hakkaisan from Hakkaisan sake factory, Niigata

est. 1922

Where can you visit Sake factory near Tokyo?

You know suntory Yamazaki whiskey distiller opens to the public (cost something like 1000JPY for 80 minutes and reservation needed ) and you can taste? The similar factory tour available at beer brewery such as Sapporo beer, Suntry Beer?  


The same goes to many Sake factories.


You can visit Sake factory to learn about Sake production process and also sake tasting. This type of visit is called "きき酒/Kikizake".

Ozawa sake factory in Ome ( near Tokyo )

We visited several sake factory and one of them is relatively close to the center of Tokyo. The sake factory is called Ozawa sake factory ( their brand is "Sawanoi").


The sake factory is around 2 hours from Shinjuku station. you take JR Chuo line then change to Ome line at Tachikawa station and get off at Sawai station. The factory is 5 min walk from the station.


You need to reserve your place for the visit. 


How you book it?


You can book it by calling +81 428 78 8215 or online form.

It is closed on Monday (usually). 

Their busy seasons are May, October and November. 


Great thing is it is free of charge and you can also taste the sake there.


Caution: In Japan, you can NOT drive when you drink (even a drop of alcohol)

Location of Ozawa Sake factory

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Real Sake Subscription Service

Want to try real Japanese sake? We launched the only authentic Japanese sake subscription service. Every month we send you the box of sake which are categorized "real Japanese rice wine" as we introduce below.


The price is 400USD per month. If interested, you can contact and register with us.

Find helpful?

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Disclaimer: Even though we try to make the info as updated and accurate but the accuracy of the information herein is not guaranteed by us. If you have any uncertainty, please contact the information source.

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