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UK’s First Sake Brewery on the Way

Buying Sake online usually involves relying on suppliers to ship the popular rice wine all the way from Japan, but this will soon change. The brewery has been approved for the Dojima Sake Brewery and it will be located at Fordham Abbey Estate in Cambridgeshire. It is the first UK facility for brewing sake and will take approximately nine months to build.

A five-year investment of £9m has made the new brewery possible and it is an exciting development and shows just how popular sake is becoming in the UK. The brewery plans to make 10,000 bottles in its first year of operation and there is the chance that sake may become even more popular and readily available.

The site of the brewery received an official, traditional Jichinsai ceremony in November, to bless and purify the building site before laying the foundations. It is a traditional Shinto celebration and involved both the Japanese ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka and the local communities including the local MP.

The project was unanimously approved by the local East Cambridgeshire District Council and should create jobs in the local area as well as raising the UK profile of Sake.

Visit the UK Dojima Sake Brewery

The making of sake is an entirely unique process which is how it gets its distinct flavour, as well as due to its ingredients. The brewery itself will be accompanied by a visitors’ centre once it is built. This will give many visitors the chance to find out more about sake, the process used to produce it and the many different types of this special Japanese rice wine.

We have discussed the many different characteristics before in previous blogs and if you’re looking to find a new sake to try or want to buy sake online for the first time our guide to finding the perfect bottle to suit your tastes is a great place to start.

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How to Choose the Perfect Sake

In Japan, Sake is considered a drink for traditionalists and elder people but across the Western World it is becoming more and more popular. You can pick up a bottle of sake in most supermarkets these days but anybody who is genuinely interested in the flavours and different types of Japan’s national drink will look to buy sake online.

Sake is made from what is known as brewer’s rice, which is different to the rice that it traditionally eaten. It is considered a rice wine and the rice is fermented like in traditional wine making. More than 80% of any bottle of sake bought in any country around the world is water and many of the Sake breweries are intentionally based near quality water supplies, natural spring water streams and other areas where there is a good supply of fresh mineral water. If you are looking to buy Sake for the first time keep the following tips in mind:

1. Check the Grain Polishing Percentage

This sounds a bit strange out of context but the percentage of grain polishing in any bottle of Sake relates to its quality. It relates to how much of the outer layer of the grains of rice have been polished away. The more of the layers that have been polished away, the more expensive the sake and the better the quality too. You will see percentages from the 90s to 40s for grain polishing and the lower the better is always recommended.

2. Understand the Different Varieties of Sake

There are a huge range of different sake varieties but most fall into one of the five following categories:

  • Junmai: pure rice sake. No distilled alcohol is added and it is a rich and full bodied wine which is traditionally served hot or at room temperature
  • Daiginjo: A fragrant and full-bodied sake which is often seen juxtaposed and blended with Junmai as in our Hakurakusei Junmai Daiginjo from the Niizawa Sake Brewing Co.
  • Ginjo: Described as the most fragrant of sakes available, Ginjo sakes have a lighter, fruitier flavour than the alternatives on the market and is popularly served chilled.
  • Honjozo: similar in character to Junmai, the only difference in Honjozo sake is that a little distiller alcohol is added. It acts as a smoothing agent and has a light character and flavour, as seen in Akita Shuri Seizoh Co. Takashimizu Honjozo Sake.

3. Look at the Filtering

Sake is available in both clear and cloudy varieties. However, it is legally required that all sake is filtered. Cloudy sake may say ‘unfiltered’ on the bottle but this simply isn’t the case and if it is a little cloudy or creamy, it simply has added sediments to affect its appearance. This kind of sediment-rich sake is usually labelled ‘Nigori’ and needs to be shaken or mixed before serving.

Many people are now seeing the fantastic flavours and subtle differences between the different sakes on the market. Opting to buy sake online allows you to choose from a range of different styles and invest in a wider selection of varieties.

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All about Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice, koji (rice malt or yeast made from rice) and water. There are different opinions as to the true origins of this rather unique beverage, but two books thought to be written around 713AD reference an alcoholic drink made from rice which may show exactly how old this traditional Japanese drink may be. The word ‘sake’ in Japanese, is also generally used to refer to alcoholic drinks.

 

Sake has maintained its popularity and there are now around 1,600 Japanese breweries producing it. Niizawa Brewery Company has a history of producing Sake that dates back to 1873. The Sakes produced here are dry and are a good match with seafood dishes, for example Kishinamien Umeshu Plum Sake. Tenzan Sake Brewery was first established in 1875 and is based in the north western part of the island of Kyushu. Their focus is on brewing the highest quality sake, by using the best quality rice and work closely with rice farmers, to continue to improve the quality of their Sake, for example Shichida Junmai Ginjo Sake.

 

Quality Sake is a versatile drink that can be paired with many dishes, but it is generally recommended to drink it with Japanese cuisine. Just like traditional wine, Sake can be enjoyed on its own, but it is recommended that if you aren’t going to eat a meal with it, have a salty snack with it instead.

 

Some sakes can be consumed at different temperatures. The same drink can taste significantly differently dependent on whether it’s served hot or cold, so it’s worth experimenting to discover which you prefer.

 

Sake sometimes make an appearance at Japanese Shinto-style wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom traditionally take it in turns to sip Sake from three different sized bowls. Sharing from the bowls is considered to be representing the couple sharing joys and sorrows.

 

There are some traditional customs often followed when drinking Sake. For example, if you are drinking it in the company of others, then it is traditional that the younger person first pours for the older person. After someone has poured Sake for you, it is considered to be a polite gesture to hold the cup up with one hand and put the other hand underneath the cup. After doing so, you should then take a sip and return the cup to the table.

 

Sake may be considered to be a simple drink, but it certainly has an enduring charm and popularity that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Browse The Fine Wine Company’s full range of Sake.