The Scoop on Sake Rice - Part 2

Sake gets its nuances and flavours from a plethora of factors, a combination of brewing methods, rice variety, the polishing ratio of the rice, the yeast variety, the ratio of koji to steamed rice, the mineral content in the water and so on.

Let’s take a look at the ingredient which can drive the flavor of a sake most - the rice.

In our last post, we shared about the polishing ratio of the rice and how that can affect lightness, richness or sweetness of a sake.

Beyond that, the varietal of rice plays a significant role in the flavour, texture and mouthfeel.

Of all the rice grown in Japan, only 4% of it is special sake rice, out of which there are roughly 100 varieties, many developed through crossing strains and breeds, and hybridization.

Today we’ll shine a light on the name that most of us have encountered in our sake adventures - YAMADANISHIKI.

Yamadanishiki is the reigning king of sake rice, a hybrid rice developed in 1923. This rice is ideally constructed for brewing with the following properties:

❇️ A good starch core
❇️ A softer grain
❇️ Accepts careful polishing down to low percentages

❇️ Absorbs water well

Sake made with Yamadanishiki is known to produce sake which is elegant yet flavorful, yielding a rich yet mellow fragrance.

Yamadashiki is the most popular brewing rice especially for Daiginjo grade sake, making up 80% of rice used for sake submitted for the big competitions.

Hyogo Prefecture is considered the home of Yamadanishiki and where it’s grown best. Two areas producing top grade Yamadanishiki are Tojo and Yokawasan in Hyogo.

So if Yokawa Yamadanishiki or Tojo Yamadanishiki is listed on your bottle, like our Nabeshima Junmai Daiginjo Yokawasan Yamadanishiki, this means the brewer paid top dollar to source the creme de la creme of sake rice.

The take away here is, by choosing a sake that lists Yamadanishiki as it's brewing rice, you are sure to go home with a good bottle of sake, made with top notch rice.

Stay tuned for the next chapter to learn more about rice varietals.