20 Best Sake Brands To Try: A Guide For The Aspiring Connoisseur

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Sake drink

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It's an incredibly versatile drink that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a meal. If you're a sake lover, you'll want to check out our list of the best brands to try in 2022.

From exhilarating drinks to unique flavors, there is something for everyone on this list. So whether you're seeking a new drink to enjoy or want to explore some different options, be sure to give these sake brands a try!

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Our Top Picks

Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo “Otter Festival”

Best Overall - Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo “Otter Festival”

• Has so much depth and character
Approachable and great for new to sake
Fruit-forward and not excessively sweet

Otokoyama “Hiyaoroshi” Junmai

Best Umami - Otokoyama “Hiyaoroshi” Junmai

• Pairs well with a variety of foods
Balance flavor of umami and fruits
Refreshing and aromatic

Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo

Most Versatile - Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo

• Fruity but not overly sweet
Can be consumed hot or cold
Velvety texture

1. Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo “Otter Festival” - Best Overall

Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo “Otter Festival”

Alcohol content: 16%
Prefecture: Yamaguchi
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: Fruit notes with a mild veggie after taste

The taste of this sake is so unique that it will have you coming back for more! The Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo is a renewed version of the Asahi Shuzo Co. Ltd.'s popular Dassai 50.

This Daiginjo has a full-bodied flavor with chewy fruit notes which reach every corner of your mouth. It's broad and thick, containing many expansive ingredients to appeal to even those who aren't typically interested in Japanese alcohols.

2. Fukucho Seaside Sparkling Junmai

Fukucho Seaside Sparkling Junmai

Alcohol content: 13%
Prefecture: Hiroshima
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Lemon notes, earthy flavor with a long enduring finish

Fukucho Seaside Sparkling Junmai sake is created by Fukucho, a female-owned brewery in Japan whose owner is Miho Imada. This sparkling sake is made using an extinct heirloom breed of rice, Hattanso, which gives its lively, vibrant body. According to Imada, this junmai offers the best expression of balance, flavor, and complexity.

You can pair this rich sake with seafood such as oysters, shellfish, and other delicacies from the sea. Despite its petite size, the bottle delivers a powerful punch!

3. Tamagawa Red Label Junmai Sake

Tamagawa Red Label Junmai Sake

Alcohol content: 20 - 21%
Prefecture: Kyoto
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Citrus notes and intense umami flavor 

Tamagawa Sake has earned a reputation for making very high-quality sake. The Kinoshita brewery, which was founded in 1842, is the only Japanese sake brewery run by a non-Japanese toji, the legendary Philip Harper.

The flavor of this best sake is round, thick, chewy, and dynamic! Depending on your preference for weird, out-of-this-world sake, the first sip either sells or kills the taster. Deep earthy tastes flood your mouth and make an impression on your thoughts.

4. Akashi-Tai Ginjo Yuzushu

Akashi-Tai Ginjo Yuzushu

Alcohol content: 10%
Prefecture: Hyogo
Category: Ginjo Yuzushu
Tasting Notes: Grapefruit and lemon acidity that lingers through the end

Akashi-Tai is known for its superb Japanese sake. It uses traditional brewing techniques and natural fermentation procedures to achieve distinct, unrivaled flavors. Ginjo Yuzushu's sake is light and delicate, with citrus and fruit infusions for a crisp bittersweet, and refreshing taste.

Akashi-Tai Ginjo Yuzushu has a powerful acidic lemon and grapefruit taste. A sharp citrus flavor hides the sake. This sake is a flexible cocktail component that may be used in replacement of, or in addition to, fresh citrus fruit.

5. Toko Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo

Toko Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo

Alcohol content: 16%
Prefecture: Yamagata
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: White pepper finish complements the white peach and star anise

In 1597, Kojima Sohonten was founded and became the primary sake supplier to the famous Uesugi samurai clan. Since then, they've been proudly making the sake of the rising sun. Kojima Sohonten creates one-of-a-kind sake for the world to enjoy from the crystal pure water of the Mogami River.

Takasago Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo is an elegant masterpiece. With an equal blend of fruit and rice aromas, the nose is both delicate and rich. It has a mild body, low acidity, and a hint of umami.

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6.Shichiken Junmai Ginjo - Best Ginjo

Shichiken Junmai Ginjo
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Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Yamanashi
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Tasting Notes: Lemon-lime and apple notes, with a foamy finish

Crafted in a brewery at the base of the Japanese Alps, where local spring water is used to make delightful sake. The 9,000-foot Mt. Kaikoma provides the water for the Ojiro River, which is one of Japan's top 100 water sources. It enters the Daigahara area after passing through the purifying layers of granite, where it transforms to a purer state due to the clean air and harsh winter.

Drinking this sake will blow your mind away with its depth and subtlety. It's fruity and robust, yet it finishes silky smooth. The sweetness and acidity present are in perfect harmony. It has a distinct flavor profile compared to what is typically available in the market.

7. Four Fox Junmai Daiginjo

Four Fox Junmai Daiginjo

Alcohol content: 16%
Prefecture: Niigata
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: Clean flavors of rice milk, pear, and melon with lemon zest

Naeba Brewery, based in Niigata, Japan, is one of the country's oldest family-owned brewery. 

The sake bottle is designed to catch people's attention.

This sake is dry, rich, clean, and balanced, thanks to the use of pure snowmelt water and precisely milled sake rice. It may be consumed and enjoyed straight from the bottle or used to prepare cocktails. It's a fresh spin on a classic.

8. Otokoyama “Hiyaoroshi” Junmai - Best Umami

Otokoyama Hiyaoroshi Junmai

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Hokkaido
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Combination of fruity and deep umami flavors

The Otokoyama brewery's sake was a staple of the Tokugawa shogunate, with a 340-year history. The Hiyaoroshi Junmai was brewed in Hokkaido using water from Mount Daisetsu, which literally means "a lot of snow." The dry and biting taste of sake comes from the combination of ice water and crisp cold air in Hokkaido's harsh environment.

Otokoyama Junmai Hiyaoroshi is a fantastic table performer who virtually begs for food. Most ramen and fried meals benefit from the refreshing flavor and underlying umami. It's pretty well-balanced in terms of umami and fruity flavors and is just right in terms of complexity.

9. Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo - Most Versatile

Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo

Alcohol content: 15.5%
Prefecture: Hyogo
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: Ripe banana, melon, and vanilla with notes of rice and wheat cream

Takara Brewing Company, situated in Kyoto, owns Shirakabegura. Their cutting-edge facilities were built in 2001. Nadagogo, located in the port city of Kobe, is traditionally known for its mineral-rich water, which allows for efficient fermentation.

Sho Chiku Bai's Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo is precisely right up your street if you enjoy a wine that isn't overly sweet but yet has a fruity flavor. This particular sake subtly changes flavor based on whether you consume it cold or warm, unlike conventional Daiginjo sake. Because of its versatility, it's a great accompaniment to any dish.

10. Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai

Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Iwate
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Umami on the mid-palate with rice and flowery notes

Nanbu Bijin, situated in a little village in Ninohe City, has a large personality because of its owner, Kosuke Kuji. They employ unpasteurized well water and a single in-bottle pasteurization process to achieve unique flavor characteristics.

There are enough intricate tastes to satisfy a seasoned sake drinker, but it's also approachable for a newcomer. It's warm and welcoming, with overtones of orange cream. The flavor is rich and dry, with just a tinge of sweetness. This saké is delightful and a subtle introduction to the essence of sake.

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11. Akashi-Tai Junmai Ginjo Sparkling Sake

Akashi-Tai Junmai Ginjo Sparkling Sake

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Hyogo
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Tasting Notes: Pleasant subtle citrus and melon flavor with a hint of sweetness

The Akashi Sake Brewery produces Akashi-Tai Junmai Ginjo Sparkling Sake. The Yonezawa family built the brewery in 1886 in Akashi, an ideal site for a sake brewery because of the fertile grounds. These areas are ideal for rice farming and have lots of pure spring water, which is necessary for sake manufacturing.

Akashi-tai Junmai Ginjo Sparkling Sake combines traditional sake fermentation processes with Champagne-style secondary fermentation processes. This sake is an excellent substitute for prosecco wine. The zesty, fruity qualities of freshly produced Junmai Ginjo sake have been kept during the second fermentation.

12. Asahi Shuzo Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo - Best Splurge

Asahi Shuzo Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo

Alcohol content: 16%
Prefecture: Yamaguchi
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: Floral with a flavor of fruit cocktail, full-bodied and very smooth

Dassai's producer, Asahi Shuzo Co., Ltd., has a 200-year history and is recognized for consistently reinventing itself to cope with today's problems. Dassai numbers in their title refer to the percentage of rice that remains after polishing.

Dassai "23," widely regarded as one of the greatest sakes available, pushes the boundaries of rice polishing. It takes a while to get the rice grains to 23% of their original size, but it's definitely worth it. This sake is not the cheapest, but it is undoubtedly worth the cost and is an absolute treat!

13. Wakatake Onikoroshi Junmai Daiginjo “Demon Slayer”

Wakatake Onikoroshi Junmai Daiginjo “Demon Slayer”

Alcohol content: 16.5%
Prefecture: Shizuoka
Category: Junmai Daiginjo
Tasting Notes: Fruit, grain, and melon flavors with a nutty character and a sweet aftertaste

Wakatake Onikoroshi is owned by Omuraya Brewing Company, which was founded in 1832. Due to the Oi River floods, merchants and travelers commonly camped on the Tokaido Road, where this ancient brewery is located. 

Using the mild water of the Minami Alps, they've devoted special attention to excellent ingredients, using their rice milling machine that dates back three generations.

Unless you can battle demons with sweetness, this well-known brand, "Demon Slayer," tastes opposite like its title. It's a transparent Junmai Daiginjo with rich fruit aromas, a silky mouthfeel, and a sharp, crisp finish. It stands out as a pleasant sake because of its fineness.

14. Urakasumi Misty Bay Junmai

Urakasumi Misty Bay Junmai

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Miyagi
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Silky with notes of peach, cotton candy, and a peppery bite

Since 1724, Saura has been producing high-quality sake. Shiogama, a picturesque spot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is home to the main brewery. Saura is particularly meticulous about utilizing locally grown rice and incorporating regional qualities into its sake brewing.

The sake's name, "Urakasumi," means "Misty Bay." This sake is the epitome of a well-balanced sake. It has a pleasant piece of chocolate and a flavorful finish at room temperature. When cooled, it has a fruitier sensation.

15. Fukuchiyo Shuzo Nabeshima Junmai Ginjo

Fukuchiyo Shuzo Nabeshima Junmai Ginjo

Alcohol content: 16.4%
Prefecture: Saga
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Tasting Notes: Lovely fruity fragrance, sweet taste, and subtle finish

The Fukuchiyo brewery, which produces some of Japan's most refined sake, employs only traditional and extremely artisanal procedures in its manufacturing, which are all "ginjo" kinds. At the 2011 International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world's most prestigious wine competition, its Nabeshima sake was named "Champion Saké."

The Nabeshima, also known as Nama-Cho, indicates that unlike ordinary pasteurized sake, which is heat processed twice, this sake was kept unpasteurized until bottling. After that, it was only heat treated once. This keeps part of the sake's fresh, vibrant taste while adding roundness and depth throughout the post-pasteurization maturing phase.

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16. Tozai "Living Jewel" Junmai

Tozai "Living Jewel" Junmai

Alcohol content: 14.9%
Prefecture: Kyoto
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Smooth and refreshing, with a hint of fruitiness and floral finish

Kizakura was formed in Kyoto in 1926 and  "Quality is our fundamental principle," is the firm's motto. Kizakura has grown to be a well-known brand in Japan, and it continues to make unique sake to appeal to a larger audience.

A light and refreshing junmai that highlights Kyoto's famed Fushimi water. Sake that is light and simple to drink, called after the bright koi fish, symbolizes great luck in Japan. This exemplifies the bright colors, patterns, and gleaming scales that have given Japanese koi fish the nickname "living jewels."

17. Fukujo “Mikagego” Junmai: “Green Label”

Fukujo “Mikagego” Junmai: “Green Label”

Alcohol content: 15.5%
Prefecture: Hyogo
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Subtle nuances of lemon zest and green apple peel in acidic yet clean and fresh profile

The sake brewery of Fukuju is located at the foot of Mt. Rokko in Kobe, a place blessed with all the climate, terrain, soil, and water essential for great sake production. The plentiful water stored in the Rokko mountain range and the sake rice that thrives at its foot.

This sake contains the brewing region's traditional mineral, tart, and robust flavor and more delicate subtleties like dried flowers, fruit peel, and lemon zest. The aromatic intensity of Fukuju Junmai is a little more than average, and the aftertaste is somewhat lingering.

18. Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo

Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo

Alcohol content: 14.8%
Prefecture: Oregon State
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Tasting Notes: Delicate combination of lime and pineapple flavors

Since 1998, SakéOne has been producing premium sake. The brewery's exceptional location in Oregon's wine region makes crystal-clear water ideal for making premium sake. SakéOne is America's first successful craft sake brewer, with a growing range of exquisite Japanese imports to complement its premium offerings.

Don't worry because SakeOne has a beverage for you if you want something more natural. Momokawa "Organic" Junmai Ginjo encapsulates everything you love about quality sake in a USDA-certified organic bottle. This one features a unique combination of acidic fruits, lime, and pineapple flavors that you've never had before.

19. Gekkeikan Kome to Mizu Junmai

Gekkeikan Kome to Mizu Junmai

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Kyoto
Category: Junmai
Tasting Notes: Full-bodied with a fruity nose with a crisp and mellow palate and lively aftertaste

Haruhiko Okura, the current President of Gekkeikan, created the fundamental principles of the company which is "Quality, Creativity, and Humanity."  This was an explicit declaration detailing the organization's principles implicitly recognized as part of their work through generations: excellence and quality, innovation and developments, and compassion.

"Kome to Mizu," or "Rice and Water," when translated, is a flexible sake that pairs nicely with richer sushi such as mackerel and smoked salmon, as well as lighter dishes like salads. This sake goes well with grilled meats as well.

20. Kokuryo Junmai Ginjo “Black Dragon”

Kokuryo Junmai Ginjo “Black Dragon”

Alcohol content: 15%
Prefecture: Fukui
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Tasting Notes: Light, dry, and rich earthy flavors

Nizaemon Ishidaya, Kokuryu's founder, established the pioneer brewery of Kokuryu in 1804 at Eihei-ji, the Soto Zen sect's central temple. Kokuryu is possibly the most well-known of Japan's soft-water brewers. Its water comes from the underground flow of Kuzuryugawa (Nine-Headed Dragon River), which has been renowned for its delectable flavor since ancient times.

This well-balanced sake accomplishes the near-impossible feat of being both enormous in profile and pure in sensation. This sake from Kokuryu is a vibrant, earthy Junmai Ginjo with aromas of earthy mushrooms, fragrant herbs, and licorice on the tongue. This sake goes well with both grilled veggies and meat.

Conclusion

Sake is a rice wine that is favored in Japan. It can be consumed hot, cold, or at room temperature. It can be enjoyed by using your own sake set and drinking it immediately to avoid spoilage

Besides sake, there are also some wines that pair best with sushi. We recommend that you try those drinks too!

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