The Sake Guide

Begin Your Sake Appreciation Journey

Sake is the national drink of Japan made from fermented rice. With a large variety of sake today, there is much to learn about this alluring alcoholic beverage. 

This guide will help you to navigate your way into the world of sake.

Sake Classification

Types of Sake

Rice polishing rate is integral to sake categorisation as the outer layer of protein and fat is shaved away, leaving the starchy interior necessary for alcohol brewing.

The more polished the rice is, the more premium the sake becomes and the more umami it will taste.

Junmai Daiginjo

Rice polishing rate of 50% or less.

Light. Fresh and complex. Considered to be premium sake.

Best served chilled.


Rice polishing rate of 70% or less.

Pure rice with no added distilled alcohol or starch. Has full-bodied rich flavours.

Best served warm or at room temperature.

Junmai Ginjo

Rice polishing rate of 60% or less.

Lighter and complex taste with fruity aroma.

Best served chilled.

Rice Variety (Sakaimai 酒米)

As rice is one of the key ingredients for sake production, sake rice variety, also known as sakaimai, is crucial in yielding specific flavour profiles. 

Sake SMV & Acidity

Region: Okayama

“Heirloom rice strain” ─ large grain with starchy core, but cracks easily during polishing.

Mostly used for high quality junmai.

Produces sake of higher acidity, sweetness and with herbal notes.



Yamada Nishiki


Region: Hyogo

“King of sake rice” ─ most popular rice variety with large oval grains and starchy core, suited for very high polishing.

Most often found in daiginjo.

Produces sake with depth and richness of flavour.

Miyama Nishiki


Region: Nagano

Medium grains with good-sized starchy core.

Most often found in ginjo.

Produces smooth sake that is less dry.

Gohyakumangoku 五百万石

Region: Niigata

Second most popular rice variety. Medium grains with large starchy core, less suited for high polishing compared to Yamada Nishiki.

Produces light-styled sake.

Dewa San-San


Region: Yamagata

Bred from Miyama Nishiki. Medium-large sized grain with starchy core.

Creates junmai ginjo.

Produces sweet and complex sake which can be fruity or earthy.

A sake’s taste is also determined by the Sake Meter Value (S.M.V) and acidity, which affect the sake’s sweetness and dryness.

Other factors that affect sweetness and dryness are flavour and strength of alcohol.

Sake Meter Value (SMV)

Sake Acidity Scale

Measures the density of sake relative to water. Ranges from -10 to +10.

If the sake contains more sugar, gravity gets heavier (-). Makes the sake sweeter but less dry.

If the sake contains less sugar, gravity gets smaller (+). Makes the sake less sweet but drier.

Sake contains acids like lactic, malic and succinic acid, and these affect the taste.

Levels range from 0 to 3.

Acidity: 1.5+

High acidity = drier

Rich and full-bodied taste

Acidity: 1.0-

Low acidity = sweeter

Light and clean taste

What Is Sake (Nihon-shu日本酒)?

Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from rice and water, fermented by koji and yeast.

The unique taste of each sake type is influenced by a few factors — rice type, rice polishing grade, water’s mineral content, type of yeast, and the climate of the region where the sake was brewed.

Discover the Flavours of Different Sake



Kiyoizumi Natsuko Monogatari Junmai Ginjo

Junmai Ginjo


Kitajima Kimoto Yamada Nishiki Junmai



Shichida Mashiro Junmai Daiginjo

Junmai Daiginjo

Sake Yeast and Production Methods

Yeast is central to fermentation by converting sugar into alcohol. Different yeast varieties can influence fragrance, flavour and acidity.

Sokuju Method

Kimoto Method

Yamahai Method

Traditional method using airborne wild lactic acid bacteria.

Labour-intensive; wooden paddles are used to mix the water, steamed rice and yeast mixture.

Usually tastes richer and more complex. Fine-grained and umami. More prominent acidity.

A modern method  where artificial lactic acid is added.

Quickens the fermentation period to 2 weeks.

90% of sake uses this method.

Traditional method using airborne wild lactic acid bacteria.

Less labour-intensive; uses moisture and temperature variations.

Richer in taste, more complex and more pronounced acidity than the Sokuju method.

Start Your Sake Appreciation Journey



Mimuro Sugi

Junmai Ginjo

Recommended for Beginners


Ippaku Suisei

Premium Junmai Daiginjo

Recommended for Beginners

For more information, speak to our Lifestyle Team at 

e. | m. (+65) 9012 3665 | t. (+65) 6533 000

The good life beckons,