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Japanese Sake'

Taylor's has the Best Selection of Japanese Craft Brewed, Cold Sake's in the Triangle!

If all you know about Sake is the warm, alcoholic, rustic stuff served at many hibachi grills and Japanese restaurants, then you will be amazed by the range of flavors and the complexity of cold sakes.  Flavors of berries, melons, anise, lychee, macadamia, peaches, white pepper and a myriad of other tastes can all be found in small batch, artisan made cold-serve Sakes.  These Sake’s are not just for pairing with sushi either, they are great food wines that match up well with any cuisine you would normally serve a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis with.
Sake is a gluten free, sulfite free beverage perfect for many who suffer with headaches, rashes and other allergies associate with many other alcoholic drinks.  Often called “rice wine” Sake is actually a brewed product, more similar to beer than to wine.  Rice, water, yeast and a special mold affected rice(Koji) are the only ingredients in many premium Sakes (alcohol spirits are added to some to help bring out more flavor), and each of those three components will have a profound effect on the finished product.

Important Sake Terms

Polishing Grades: Rice kernels for making sake are “polished” to remove the proteins, minerals and other impurities located in the outer portion of the kernel to get to the pure, fermentable starches at the center.  The more of the outer husk polished away, the better the grade of Sake produced.
Daiginjo –
50% or more of kernel polished away
Ginjo – 40% or more of kernel polished away
Honjozo – 30% or more of kernel polished away
Futsu – “Table Sake” with no minimum polishing requirements.  Accounts for 75% of total Sake production
Junmai – Sake made without the addition of distilled alcohol, or “pure rice saké”
Tokubetsu – A somewhat vague term that means “special” sake.  Polishing of 55+%, low fermentation temperatures, or rare rice strains are some of the most common reasons for a Sake earning a tokubetsu designation.
Nigori – A ‘Milk Saké’ or sake that is partially unfiltered or that has had some of the rice solids added back, resulting in a Sake that has a cloudy, milky white texture and appearance.  Most have an off-dry to sweet flavor.
Genshu – A Saké that is undiluted before bottling.
Nihonshudo or Saké Meter Value (SMV) – A number that can be found on the back label of many Sakes indicating the sweetness/dryness level.  Zero being a neutral sweetness level with higher positive numbers indicating drier Sakes and lower negative numbers indicating sweeter Sakés.
Nama – Indicates an unpasteurized Saké.
Yamahai – A traditional, time consuming brewing method that utilizes native yeast strains. Many breweries have abandoned the process since using cultured yeasts takes half the time and creates more predictable flavors. Yamahai Sakes typically have funky, yeasty, smoky, nutty notes.

Popular Sake Rice Varieties:
Yamada Nishiki – Many producers consider this the ultimate Saké rice, especially for daiginjo Saké. Noted for producing feminine style Sakés that are flavorful yet delicate and aromatic.
Gohyakumangoku – The second most popular variety among craft brewers, especially in the Niigata prefecture. It produces Sakés that are clean, light and refreshing.
Miyamanishiki – This cold resistant strain is popular in northern prefectures and produces rich and full bodied Sakés
Koshi Tanrei – A relatively new hybrid strain used primarily in Niigata. It is a cross between Gohykumangoku and its clean, dry style and Yamada Nishiki with its fragrant, floral qualities.
Omachi – Known for rich, earthy flavors that are very distinctive and easy to identify once one has come to recognize the flavors.


Here are some of the Sake's we Carry in our Shop


Bunraku Brewery – Forgotten Japanese Spirit Yamahai Junmai $14.99 300ml

Forgotten Japanese Spirit Yamahai JunmaiCrystal clear, hard water from the Arakawa River in Saitama Prefecture is known for producing great Sake.  Although this is a Yamahai style Sake, it is still very crisp and clean tasting, with just a hint of the smoky, nutty flavors that usually accompany brews made using this traditional, time consuming method.  Fruit flavors of peach and apricot accompany notes of white chocolate, kiwi, almond and just a dash of the wooly funkiness that makes Yamahai Sakes so highly prized.  Great with creamy rice, potato, spicy and oily dishes.


Joto Sake Importers Fuji Brewery Junmai Sake $12.99 300ml

Joto Sake Importers Fuji Brewery Junmai SakeThis tiny brewery in Shimane Prefecture has just 3 brewers and hand-crafts some of Japan’s most distinctive Sakes.  Their Junmai is soft and mellow with fruit notes of peaches and strawberries on the front and midpalate that are nicely balanced by drying acidity and star anise spiciness.  A versatile Sake that is delicious chilled, room temperature or Nurukan style (slightly warmed to around 104 degress F)





Sawanotruru Brewery Jitsuraku Sake $7.99 300ml

Sawanotruru Brewery Jitsuraku SakeSawanotsuru Brewery was established in 1717 in Nada, one of what’s known to be the most prestigious three sake regions in Japan, located near Kobe (famed for the beef) in western Japan. This terroir-driven sake is made from best quality Yamadanishiki rice, harvested in “Special-A” classified (a Grand Cru equivalent) Yoshikawa-cho region near the brewery. The ancient and hard to control Kimoto technique adds richness and complexity to the clean, dry, round palate with a delicate “rice-y” finish. 





Takano Brewery Koshi No Tousetsuka Sake $37.99 720ml

Takano Brewery Koshi No Tousetsuka Sake
From the sweet fruit and vanilla aromas, you might expect this delicate sake to be heavier and less dry than it is.  White peach, lychee, vanilla and honeysuckle greet the nose on the initially and continue onto the palate where they are joined by citrus and umami notes on the finish.  Made in Japan’s most legendary Sake prefecture, Niigata, from a combination of Yamada Nishiki and Mangoku rices. 





Hideyoshi Brewery Namacho Honjozo Sake $13.99 300ml

Hideyoshi Brewery Namacho Honjozo Sake
One of the oldest, continually run Sake breweries in Japan, Hideyoshi Brewery had been run by the Suzuki family since 1689 boasts the oldest recorded recipe for honjozo Sake.  Vibrant and clean with notes of lychee fruit and hazelnut, this a perfect sake for tempura and poultry dishes. 







Kikusui Funaguchi Brewery 200ml Nama Cans
Kikusui Funaguchi Brewery 200ml Nama Cans Kikusui created the first unpasturized (nama) Sake can in 1972 and have been the leader of the segment ever since.  Canned nama sake is a wonderful thing.  The 200ml (one cup) cans allow for easy, light weight transport and they don’t need to be constantly refrigerated like glass bottled namas.

The classic Yellow Can ($7.49) The nose on yellow can is a mix of banana bread and honey and the texture chewy, viscous. At 18% ABV and the flavor is rich and has a hint of perceived sweetness followed banana and melon fruit with yeasty undertones.  It goes well with lots of spicy foods because it is such a blanket of flavor and feeling.

The Red Can ($8.49) is by far our best selling Sake.  A barrel aged version of the yellow can, it rachets up the complexity of the banana and honey flavors with nuances of floral nectar, pineapple with a hint of nuttiness.

The Black Can ($10.99) is the latest of the Kikusui cans to arrive in NC.  The lightest in body of Kikusui cans, it is also the most complex.  Serve cold and be astounded by the different flavors that come through as it warms up and gets air.  The alcohol content in the black can is augmented by the addition of Sochu instead of “distilled alcohol spirits,” and the difference is profound.


Other Great Sakes In Stock!

Naba Shoten – Minato “Harbor” Tsuchizaki Yamahai Nama Genshu Sake $39.99 720mlYoshi-No-Gawa – “Winter Warrior” Jumnai Gingo Sake $14.99 300mlSuisen Shuzo – Kibo One Cup Junmai Sake $6.99 200ml canKinshihai Shuzo – “Snow Shadow” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake $19.99 300mlTakara Shuzo – Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai Sake $11.99 300mlMiwa Shuzo – Shirakawago Sasanigori (Lightly Cloudy) Sake $12.99 300ml



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