Junmai is the Japanese word meaning “pure rice.” This is an important term in the world of sake, as it separates pure rice sake from non-pure rice sake.
Junmai is brewed using only rice, water, yeast, and koji — there are no other additives, such as sugar or alcohol. Unless a bottle of sake says “junmai” (this will be written in Japanese as 純米), it will have added brewers alcohol and/or other additives.
There are sub-categories of Junmai Sakes - Junmai, Ginjos, and Daiginjos. The Junmai Ginjo can be viewed as more premium than the regular Junmais, and the Junmai Daiginjo as more premium than the Junmi Ginjos. However, this does not mean that the Daiginjos re the best - Daiginjos are very light in flavor while the Junmais are more bold. Daiginjos will pair well with very light foods (like sashimi and nigiri) as neither the food nor sake will overpower the other. Regular junmais will do great with stronger flavored foods, and Ginjos fall somewhere in between.
Nigoris are coarse-filtered sakes; small rice particles are kept in the sakes, creating the creamy taste and texture. Nigoris do especially well with spicy foods - the creaminess helping soothe some of the bite.
Junmai sakes refer to a type of sake for which the rice is polished down to at least 70 percent of its original size, which represents the least polished of the sakes. Though junmai sakes vary in taste, sakes in this category tend to be less sweet and more earthy with mineral undertones. People who like the dry earthiness of red wine might prefer the earthy taste of junmai.
Tokubetsu means “special” in Japanese, and Hakkaisan "Tokubetsu Junmai" is special indeed. The naturally soft water used in its brewing comes from snow that melts off the peak of the Mountain Hakkai. The dry body is preceded by mild and creamy texture. A flavor of almond and vanilla with a hint of a lactic character melts across the palate like a snowflake caught on the tongue. With a deep, satisfying taste tailored to compliment many foods, Hakkaisan "Tokubetsu Junmai" will easily become a house favorite.
Hakkaisan Tokubetsu (300ml) $27
This sake has been stored in cedar barrels. The aroma is reminiscent of the fragrant cedar mountain forest in Japan and the flavor is smooth yet spicy finishing with a mild aftertaste.
Taruzake (300ml) $17
This Tokubetsu Junmai is said to be brewed for whales that reside off of the Pacific coast of Kochi. The nose is a collection of rose, wood, and grape scents. The brewery advertises that this Junmai is "for the serious sake drinker" and we agree. It is very dry throughout the mouth and ends in a "he-man" sort of finish. Nevertheless there is a strong presence of fennel and hops and this is underscored by an unripe strawberry vein. It is extremely clean in viscosity and texture and flavorful enough to drink all night!
Suigei Tokubetsu (300ml) $34
Ginjo sakes have rice polished down even more than regular junmai sakes (down to at least 60% of the original size of the grain of rice), creating an even more smooth and easy-drinking experience. Polishing the rice more makes the sake taste "lighter and brighter," and adding sweeter, floral notes that give it similar flavor profiles to pinot grigio or riesling wine.
Using a traditional method called yamahai shikomi with a slower brewing process (vs modern brewing techniques utilized with most sakes), this rich sake will whet your appetite with the way it expresses the umami of the rice.
Tamanohikari (300ml) $24
This Ginjo, known as "Chrysanthemum Water," has a slightly fruity nose with hints of citrus and persimmons. Kikusui has a confidently smooth beginning with a gradual thickening viscosity that ends in a slightly salty aftertaste. Dry, sharp and smooth according to most, this Ginjo sits well in the mouth and will tease you with sweet fruit tones and a dry finish. Kikusui is fermented at a low temperature longer than most Ginjos to rid the sake of the sometimes "heavy" characteristics of a Junmai, thus giving it an overall light and dry complexion. Gin and vodka drinkers will enjoy
Kikusui (300ml) $26
The nose is a party of dried fruit, minerals, nutmeg, ripe plum, and banana cream pie. Oooooh the Kubota legend brings forth a honjozo that belts around flavors such as caramel, cotton candy and cocoa in a very dry and of course clean package. There is a bit of back door acidity and an unmistakable aftertaste that revisits the cotton candy elements. Clean and clear this honjozo gives one a good impression of a layered sake that works better at or near room temperature
Kubota Senju (300ml) $27
Daiginjo sakes are generally the most expensive of the three junmai sakes. The rice is polished down to below 50% of its original size. It takes more labor to create this type of sake due to how small the rice kernels need to get. The result, though, is a more "elegant" sake that takes at least three sips to fully appreciate the range of flavors. Pairs best with lighter foods, and less so with stronger flavors that may overpower the sake.
Dassai 50 "Otter Festival" is a premium junmai daiginjo sake, made from only rice milled down to 50%, water and koji mold. Clean, soft and very subtle, the balanced aromas and a mild sweetness envelop the senses making Dassai enjoyable on its own, or with a meal of refined cuisine. “Dassai 50” has a full, almost overripe fragrance of green apples. On the palate, the apple flavour continues to inject acidity, but it is tempered with strawberries and cream, and sweet peaches. Smooth and delicious. Barely-there dryness in the finish.
Dassai 50 (300ml) $37
An award winning sake with the prestige to match its name. This Muroka Junmai Daiginjo has an enticing pale gold color, which is reflected in its golden label. Being pasteurized only once immediately before shipping and lacking carbon filtration gives the sake a refreshing scent and flavor. The sake might appear vaguely cloudy, but don't worry, it's a good thing! Because this sake is unfiltered when it's squeezed it contains a little whiteness form the rice, which is an essential ingredient of the liquor. Born Gold holds true to its name, being a gold prize winner in the 2016 US National Sake Appraisal.
Born Gold (720ml) $72
In pursuit of a impact-laden, magnificent new flavor, the long-beloved brewers of the famous Kubota sake lineup crafted this fine Junmai Daiginjo. Has an elegant nose with notes of pear and melon, with a harmonious acidity and pleasant mouthfeel. Kubota's distinctive smooth and clean texture and crisp flavor lead into a comfortably long finish.
Kubota (720ml) $86
Nigori sake re coarse filtered, allowing unfermented rice particles to remain in the sake to increase feeling and flavor. It also creates the "cloudy" or "milky" appearance of this class of sake. Served chilled, this sake pairs well with spicy foods, grilled meats, or desserts.
A mouthful of Japan’s #1 selling Nigorizake “Perfect Snow” leaves a perfectly excellent impression. This full-bodied sweet Nigori genshu is not just the regular Nigori Sake. It’s undiluted so has 21% abv and chewable grains of rice from our traditional brewing methods. Perfect Snow also provides for more versatile drinking possibilities than your normal Nigori Sake, you can drink it chilled, on the rocks, with soda or mixed with your favorite juice. For easy mixers or fun cocktails Perfect Snow is the perfect partner.
Kikusui Snow (300ml) $22
This plush, velvety Nigori sake was previously a treat only available to individuals who could visit the Kunizakari Brewery. It has a calming and rustic flavor that is highly enjoyable chilled or on ice.
Kunizkari (200ml) $10
Silky smooth and smartly chic in a chic frosted glass bottle, Kinushiro is a Junmai grade nigori sake with a clean and refreshing aftertaste and a full but elegant character. It has elegant flavor, velvety and creamy texture yet soft and airy on the palate.
Kinushiro (500ml) $32
This carbonated shochu cocktail is light and easy to drink. Available in White Peach and Grapefruit flavors
JPOP Soju Cocktail $7
The nose on this very smooth one cup is a balance of rice and mineral tones. Talk about an easy sake to quaff! This brew is very smooth, very clean, and very gone! There is a velvety nature to the fluid with hints of nougat and sweet rice but has an over all dry appearance. This cup has an incredibly quick finish with no tail whatsoever, which means it is gone faster then you think!
Futsu-shu (180ml) $8
ORION DRAFT BEER offers mild taste and crisp aftertaste developed in the semitropical climate. It is invigorating, and yet has rich body that only beer can offer. It goes well with any dish, not to mention Okinawan cuisine, bringing out the best of each dish and stimulating appetite.