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Components of Japanese Sake

In order that they can be used as representative values, the average values for several components of Tokutei-meisho, (specifically designated sake*) and ordinary sake are respectively calculated from data taken for 5 years (2008-2012) (Table 1). From this data, the characteristics of sake are summarized below.

 

Alcohol content

Typically contains from 15 to 16 % alcohol.

Nihonshu-do (sake meter value)

Nihonshu-do is a specific gravity scale that provides a sweetness-dryness index for sake.

The average sake meter value is from +4 to +5.

Ekisu-bun (extract)

Ekisu-bun is defined as the weight of non-volatile components (g/100 ml).

The average extract is from 4.3 to 4.5.

San-do (acidity)

San-do is the index of organic acid content such as lactic acid, succinic acid and malic acid.

The average acidity is from 1.2 to 1.5. Acidity makes sake taste dry and rich.

In general, junmai sake*contains more acidity than others.

Amino san-do (amino acid value)

Amino san-do is the index of amino acid content. The average amino acid value is from 1.3 to 1.5. Sake with more amino acid tastes richer, while less amino acid tastes lighter.

Amakara-do and Noutan-do

Amakara-do and Noutan-do are indexes calculated from Nihonshu-do and San-do. The higher the amakara-do is, the sweeter the sake tastes. Meanwhile, the higher the noutan-do is, the richer the sake tastes.

The average level of amakara-do is from -0.5 to -0.1, and the average level of noutan-do is from -1.0 to -0.4.

Specifically designated sake in general, junmai sake in particular, tends to have a drier and richer taste.

Aroma compounds

Ginjo sake has a fruity aroma which consists of esters such as isoamyl acetate (a banana-like flavor) and ethyl caproate (an apple-like flavor).

The average level of ethyl caproate is 2.1 mg/l and the average level of isoamyl acetate is 1.5 mg/l in ginjo sake.

Explanatory Notes

Tokutei-meishou, (specific designation):This is the classification system for sake as determined by the National Tax Agency. There are three categories below and combination of them.

  • Ginjo sake:Made from highly polished rice, koji, water and jozo alcohol. Brewed using the ginjo-zukuri method. Has a characteristic flavor and high clarity.
  • Junmai sake:Made simply from rice, koji and water. Good flavor and high clarity.
  • Honjozo sake: Made from polished rice, koji, water and jozo alcohol. Good flavor and high clarity.

Ordinary sake: Sake other than specifically designated sake

The above are simplified descriptions. If you need more information, please refer to National Tax Agency Notice No.8, November 22, 1989 "Labelling Standards for the Manufacturing Process and Quality of Sake." (Japanese language only)

The average values of components are also calculated broken down by prefecture. (Table 2)

The distribution of amakara-do and noutan-do of sake has been visualized on a map. (Figure 1 and 2)

The profile of ordinary sake made in each prefecture has been plotted with amakara-do on the x-axis and noutan-do on the y-axis. (Figure 3)

Table 1. Components of Japanese Sake
category Ordinary sake Ginjo Junmai Honjozo
Number of samples analysed 2,231 2,070 2,017 1,901
Alcohol content(%) 15.39 15.91 15.46 15.54
Nihonshu-do (sake meter value) 3.8 4.4 4.1 5.1
Ekisu-bun
(extract)
4.50 4.54 4.47 4.31
San-do
(acidity)
1.18 1.32 1.49 1.27
Aminosan-do (amino acid value) 1.28 1.27 1.54 1.39
Amakara-do -0.13 -0.34 -0.52 -0.35
Noutan-do -0.97 -0.74 -0.41 -0.87
Ethyl caproate (mg/l) - 2.11 - -
Isoamyl acetate(mg/l) - 1.49 - -
Table 2 Components of Ordinary Sake
  Number of samples Alcohol content Nihonshu-do Ekisu-bun San-do Amino san-do Amakara-do Noutan-do
Total 2,231 15.39 3.8 4.50 1.18 1.28 -0.13 -0.97
Hokkaido 40 15.38 4.0 4.47 1.22 1.14 -0.19 -0.92
Sapporo Region 40 15.38 4.0 4.47 1.22 1.14 -0.19 -0.92
Aomori 31 15.36 4.1 4.46 1.20 1.48 -0.19 -0.94
Iwate 39 15.52 3.7 4.57 1.13 1.27 -0.06 -1.07
Miyagi 38 15.44 3.5 4.58 1.20 1.00 -0.13 -0.93
Akita 52 15.25 3.8 4.47 1.26 1.23 -0.22 -0.83
Yamagata 63 15.40 4.7 4.35 1.18 1.14 -0.21 -1.02
Fukushima 62 15.31 3.0 4.62 1.19 1.33 -0.05 -0.93
Sendai Region 285 15.37 3.8 4.50 1.19 1.23 -0.14 -0.95
Ibaraki 56 15.32 5.2 4.22 1.14 1.19 -0.19 -1.08
Tochigi 56 15.37 3.5 4.59 1.13 1.14 -0.09 -1.03
Gunma 43 15.22 5.4 4.17 1.06 1.08 -0.15 -1.27
Saitama 53 15.25 5.3 4.22 1.09 1.14 -0.16 -1.22
Niigata 108 15.51 5.9 4.14 1.05 1.12 -0.21 -1.32
Nagano 113 15.18 5.0 4.25 1.10 1.00 -0.17 -1.19
Kanto-Shinetu Region 429 15.32 5.1 4.25 1.10 1.10 -0.17 -1.19
Chiba 51 15.24 4.7 4.30 1.11 1.14 -0.14 -1.16
Tokyo 23 15.54 5.7 4.22 1.12 1.16 -0.23 -1.18
Kanagawa 26 15.40 4.5 4.38 1.17 1.32 -0.19 -1.03
Yamanashi 31 14.90 4.5 4.24 1.18 1.29 -0.17 -1.04
Tokyo Region 131 15.25 4.8 4.29 1.14 1.21 -0.17 -1.11
Toyama 29 15.06 6.5 3.91 1.20 1.09 -0.40 -1.06
Ishikawa 43 14.91 3.6 4.36 1.30 1.36 -0.25 -0.75
Fukui 41 15.33 5.0 4.26 1.14 1.34 -0.20 -1.11
Kanazawa Region 113 15.10 4.9 4.21 1.21 1.28 -0.27 -0.96
Gifu 71 15.55 4.2 4.47 1.24 1.49 -0.23 -0.87
Shizuoka 32 15.71 5.2 4.34 1.11 1.45 -0.17 -1.18
Aichi 54 15.33 3.6 4.51 1.19 1.44 -0.13 -0.94
Mie 48 15.33 2.8 4.66 1.19 1.31 -0.06 -0.90
Nagoya Region 205 15.46 3.8 4.51 1.20 1.43 -0.15 -0.95
Shiga 73 15.71 3.9 4.64 1.19 1.41 -0.15 -0.96
Kyoto 57 15.39 3.3 4.64 1.20 1.21 -0.11 -0.91
Osaka 29 15.83 2.1 4.99 1.18 1.17 0.04 -0.90
Hyogo 117 15.47 3.2 4.69 1.30 1.26 -0.21 -0.72
Nara 54 15.74 3.8 4.69 1.30 1.49 -0.26 -0.75
Wakayama 45 15.47 3.7 4.58 1.22 1.21 -0.17 -0.88
Osaka Region 375 15.57 3.4 4.68 1.24 1.30 -0.17 -0.83
Tottori 35 15.61 6.4 4.10 1.25 1.47 -0.44 -0.96
Shimane 43 15.64 5.2 4.31 1.18 1.44 -0.26 -1.04
Okayama 59 15.09 1.9 4.77 1.03 1.13 0.21 -1.17
Hiroshima 62 15.39 2.7 4.69 1.11 1.20 0.05 -1.05
Yamaguchi 52 15.67 3.8 4.56 1.13 1.35 -0.06 -1.07
Hiroshima Region 251 15.45 3.7 4.53 1.13 1.29 -0.06 -1.07
Tokushima 42 15.30 4.3 4.37 1.15 1.16 -0.15 -1.04
Kagawa 21 15.44 5.2 4.30 1.19 1.32 -0.27 -0.93
Ehime 54 15.48 4.2 4.46 1.14 1.29 -0.13 -1.06
Kochi 32 15.19 6.5 3.96 1.21 1.24 -0.41 -1.06
Takamatsu Region 149 15.36 4.9 4.31 1.17 1.25 -0.22 -1.04
Fukuoka 83 15.34 3.4 4.57 1.28 1.57 -0.21 -0.77
Saga 54 15.34 0.3 5.11 1.30 1.38 0.05 -0.59
Nagasaki 42 15.12 0.4 5.04 1.22 1.42 0.14 -0.74
Fukuoka Region 179 15.29 1.8 4.84 1.27 1.48 -0.05 -0.71
Kumamoto 23 15.29 3.0 4.62 1.23 1.37 -0.11 -0.84
Oita 47 15.43 1.2 4.96 1.14 1.35 0.17 -0.97
Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa 4 14.55 3.3 4.35 0.88 1.45 0.26 -1.53
Kumamoto and Okinawa Region 74 15.34 1.9 4.82 1.15 1.36 0.09 -0.96

Figure 1 Amakara-do Map

Figure 1 Amakara-do Map

Figure 2 Noutan-do Map

Figure 2 Noutan-do Map

Figure 3 Amakara-do and Noutan-do of Ordinary Sake

Figure 3 Amakara-do and Noutan-do of Ordinary Sake