Often Sake has mistaken with other type of alcoholic beverages, Some times Sake is identified as Rice wine or Spirit (Due to its high alcohol content comparatively with Wine) or even known as special kind of beer, and therefore this article will explain why sake cannot be accurately considered as a special kind of beer, Spirits or (Rice) wine.
Before that I would like to tell you, in Simple words
What Sake is???
Sake is an Alcoholic beverage made from polished white rice. With alcohol content of between 11% ABV to 21%ABV.
Japan’s Liquor Tax Act defines the ingredients and the manufacturing process that must be used for sake production. The Act states that sake must be made from Steamed Rice (Which is Polished, Washed, Soaked and Steamed) , koji, water and Yeast.
After Preparing Ingredients, sake production involves below steps;
- The Fermentation Starter – Shubo
- The Main Fermentation – Moromi
- Jozo Alcohol and Filteration
In a brief, Rice is a starchy solid with water and koji (Mouldy Rice) used together to transform the solid rice into sugary liquid. The last ingredient is Yeast, which converts the sugary liquid into alcohol by fermenting.
How Sake different from Spirits
A Simple reason is Alcoholic Percentage, Sake relatively strong alcoholic beverage (commonly 15%ABV to 17%ABV), but it is more closer to that of wine (12-14%ABV) rather than spirits such as Vodka, Whisky, or Rum which usually 40%ABV
Spirit Needs to go through an additional production process called Distillation, where as Sake is not distilled.
During this process only aromas are captured with alcohol, but acidity and water left behind. Later water is added to dilute the strength of alcohol.
So Sake is not Spirits because it is not distilled, it has moderate alcohol around 15-17%ABV, and the final product has acidity, after filtered nothing is added to Sake.
Sake vs Spirits
|Is it Distilled?||Always||Never|
|Typical Alcohol strength||Above 40%ABV||15-17%ABV|
Now it may sound so close to Wine and Beer, Lets discuss about it,
How Sake different from Wine,
Like wine sake is fermented beverage, and it has an alcoholic strength similar to wine, however the base ingredient is totally different wine is made from grapes which has sugar in its juice which can be converted to alcohol with the help of yeast where as Sake is made from Rice and which need different production Process.
Grapes has color Pigments, Sugar, High level of acids and Tannins, but in typical sake is colorless, lacks of tannin, is only delicately acids, and its flavours are more delicate than wine.
Sake vs Wine
|Wine (Grape Juice)||Rice (Polished Rice)|
|Raw materials contribution to the final product.||· Colour
· Aroma and Flavours
· High acidity
|· No Colour
· Very Little flavours
· No Tannins
· Very little acidity
|Does the Raw material content fermentable sugar?||Yes||No|
|Is the raw material solid or liquid?||Liquid||Solid|
How Sake different from Beer
Like Sake, Beer is made from solid starchy cereal grain but it is differ in number of ways.
In Beer production unpolished whole different types of grains are used, and are encouraged to start germination and this helps the grains produce substance that convert their densly stored starch into sugar. This is called Malting.
Sake is only made from polished rice; it is not possible to make polished rice to germinate.
|Sake vs Beer|
|How is the starch broken into sugars?||Malted grains||Koji Mould|
|When is the starch broken in to the sugar?||Before the Fermentation||At the same time of Fermentation.|
|Main Raw materials||Various Grains||Only Rice|
|Are the grains are Polished?||No, Unpolished grains are used.||Yes|
The above details are well described that Sake is not part of any beverage category; Sake is made from very unique and dedicated methods and practice.
Sake is in a category of its own.