Sake Glossary

Amakuchi (甘口):

sweet flavor.


Amino Sando (アミノ酸度):

Amino acid content.


Arabashiri ( あらばしり ):

The first one-third of sake extracted from pressing.  Typically from  a fune, but it can be from a machine too


Assakuki (圧搾 機):

A sake press.  A machine that separates the sake from the lees. Often referred to as the common brand name “Yabuta”


Atsukan (熱燗):

Hot sake.  Also implies “very hot” instead of gently warmed


Bin-kan (ビンカン):

In-bottle pasteurization


Bin-zume (瓶詰め):




Brewing Year


Choko (猪口):

Small  sake cup.


Choki Jukuseishu

Intentionally long-term aged sake



Storage. Aging


Daiginjō-shu (大吟醸酒):

Also referred to as simply “Daiginjo” premium sake with rice milled down to 50% or less of the original grain.


Dewa Sansan

A sake rice variety from Yamagata Prefecture.

Fune ( 槽 ):

Fune is a box used to press the bags of moromi (mash) to separate the sake from the kasu (lees).


Futsu-shu (普通酒 ):

Normal sake with no special grade or moniker.


Genshu (原酒):

Undiluted sake.  Often higher in alcohol content



Sake rice from Iwate Prefecture.


Ginjo-shu (吟醸酒 ):

Also referred as simply “Ginjo” is sake brewed with rice milled down to 60% or less of the original grain.



Sake rice from Hokkaido prefecture.


Go (合):

A measurement of volume that is equal to 180ml. It is also the standard size for the amount a Masu (枡) will hold.



Sake rice from Niigata prefecture.



Sake rice from Hiroshima prefecture.



Heiko Fukuhakkou (並行複醗酵):

Multiple parallel fermentation.   Converting  starch to sugar and yeast converting the sugar to alcohol simultaneously.


Hi-ire (火入れ):



Hi-ochi (火落ち):

A description of an unpasteurized sake that has gone bad due to improper care.





Hiya Oroshi (ひやおろし):

Sake that is pasteurized once after brewing and released in the fall without the usual second pasteurization.


Honjozo (本醸造):

Honjozo is sake that is at least Junmai grade (made with rice milled at least to no more than 70% remaining) and has a small amount of brewers alcohol added to open up the flavor and aroma.



One standard serving of sake.  180ml



1.8 liter bottle



Jizake (地酒):

Jizake is sake from small, local producers.


Jo-on (常温):

Room temperature sake


Joso ( 上槽 ):

Pressing sake from the lees after fermentation.


Jozo (醸造):

Brewing or to brew.


Junmai-shu (純米酒):

Also referred to simply as” Junmai “.  Sake made with only rice, koji, yeast and water. Specifically no brewers alcohol is added.


Junmai Ginjo-shu (純米酒):

Also referred to simply as” Junmai Ginjo “.  A grade of premium sake milled to at least 60% made with only rice, koji, yeast and water. Specifically no brewers alcohol is added.


Kakemai (掛米):

The steamed rice added to a batch of sake that has not had koji mold applied to it.



Kanzake (燗酒):

Warmed sake.


Karakuchi (辛口):

Dry sake.


Kasu (粕):

The lees remaining after the sake has been removed from a sake ferment.


Ki-kōjikin (黄麹):

Yellow koji-kin. This is the koji-kin used for sake.


Kijoshu (貴醸酒):

Kijoshu is sake made with sake. That is about half of the water normally used for a batch of sake is replaced with sake. This results in a sweat sake, usually aged for a few years before use.

Kikizake (利き酒):

Kikizake is sake tasting for quality assessment during production.


Kimoto (生酛):

The original method for creating a sake yeast mash or starter by mixing with poles.


Kobo (酵母):



Koji (麹):

Steamed rice that has been used as the base for culturing Aspergillus Oryzae. Koji break down the starch into sugar components in the rice.


Koji Muro (麹室):

Koji making room.


Koji-kin (麹菌):

Koji-kin is koji that has gone to spore. It is also know as Aspergillus Oryzae.


Koku ( 石 ):

A traditional unit of sake that equals 180 liters


Kome (米):

Rice that has not been cooked.


Koshiki (甑):

Rice steaming vessel for sake production.


Koshu (古酒):

Aged sake no less than two to three years.


Kura (蔵):

Kura or Sakagura is a sake brewery.


Kurabito (蔵人):

Kurabito is literally ‘brewery-people.’ Those who work in the kura.


Kuramoto (蔵元):

The head of the kura. Kuramoto is seldom the Toji.


Masu (枡):

Masu is the square measuring box which holds 1 go (180ml) that is also used for serving and drinking sake.


Miyama Nishiki

Sake rice from Nagano.


Miyamizu (宮水):

This is the famous water from the Nada area used to make sake.


Moromi (諸味):

Fermenting mash.


Moto (元):

Yeast starter.  Also called shubo.


Moyashi (もやし):

Nickname for koji mold.


Muroka (無濾過):

Unfiltered / non-charcoal filtered sake.  This is sake that has been pressed clear (unlike Nigori, does not have kasu is left in the sake) but but may show hint of natural color.



The middle part of pressing a batch of sake.  This usually implies pressing is done with a fune.


Nama (生):

Unpasteurized sake, also written as namazake. Nama sake contains live yeast, bacteria and active enzymes that continue to operate on the sake and change its characteristics.




Nama Chozo (生貯蔵):

Sake that has been stored as nama just after brewing.  Pasteurized once only before shipping.


Namazake (生酒):

Unpasteurized sake. Also known as nama sake.


Nama-Nama (生生):

Unpasteurized sake, also written as namazake.  Repeating the term emphasizes that neither of the two pasteurizations was performed.


Nigorizake (濁り酒):

Lightly filtered sake that remains cloudy and sweet. The bottle is usually shaken to incorporate the sediments before pouring a glass.


Nihonshu (日本酒):

Japanese Sake, the refined Japanese alcoholic drink made with Rice, Koji, Yeast and Water. This first two letters are for Japan i.e., Nihon (日本) and the last letter is for alcoholic drink i.e., Shu (酒). Shu is also pronouned Saké.


Nihonshu-do (日本酒度):

This is the same as the Sake Meter Value (SMV) and relates to the specific gravity of the sake. A value of zero equals the specific gravity of 1.0. The greater value, the lower the specific gravity and the dryer the sake. The more negative the value, the higher the specific gravity and the sweeter the sake. For example a -4 is a pretty sweet sake while a +10 is an extremely dry sake.



Sakagura (酒蔵):

Sakagura or kura is a sake brewery.


Sakamai (酒米):

Sakamai is rice specifically developed or used for making sake.


Sando ( 酸度 ):

Acidity level. For sake the sando tends to be between 0.8 and 1.7. This value represents the number of ml of a base liquid added to 10ml of sake to make the resulting liquid pH neutral.


Seimai-buai (精米歩合):

The degree to which the rice is polished. For example, a 60% Seimai-buai is what remains.  In other words, 40% of the rice was removed.




Seishu (清酒):

The official Japanese name for sake.


Seizo nengetsu (製造年月):

Seizo nengetsu is the bottling date for the sake.


Shibori (搾り):

To press or squeeze. This is the stage where the lees are pressed from the moromi or main ferment.


Shinpaku (心白):

The soft white opaque center of a sakemai or rice specifically for making sake. This rice tends to be larger and softer than shokumai or rice specifically for eating.


Shinseki (浸漬):

Shinseki is steeping, a process of soaking the rice to ready it for steaming.


Shiyo kobo (使用酵母):

Shiyo kobi is the yeast variety used in the sake.


Shizukazake (雫酒):

Sake made by letting the sake drip from bags of moromi kasu (the fermentation lees) rather than pressing bags to filter the sake from the lees. This method is mostly used for the highest quality sake.


Shizuku ( 雫 ):

Shizuku is sake that was collected from hanging bags of moromi dripping their contents.


Shubo (酒母):

Shubo is the yeast starter or yeast mash for a batch of sake. Also called the moto.


Shuzo (酒造):

Shuzo is brewing or sometimes brewery. It is often used in the name of companies to indicate they are breweries.



Suzu-bie (涼冷え):

Suzu-bie, a term for sake temperature, is “”cool chilled”


Taru (樽):

Taru is a wood cast for storing sake. Kind of like a small barrel or keg.


Taruzake is sake that has been aged in casts so it takes on the fragrance of the wood.


Tei-seihaku-shu (低精白酒):

Tei-seihaku-shu is sake with a high seimai buai (rice milling ratio), for example 80%. One reason for using such lightly milled rice is to preserve the pure rice flavors and aromas.


Toji (杜氏):

The head brewer at a kura (sake brewery). A master sake brewer.


Tokubetsu (特別):

Special designation that indicates the sake is somehow special and applies to the Honjozo and Junmai class of sake. It is sometimes used for Ginjo class sake but has no official meaning when used in this context.


Tsubodai (壷代):

Tsubodai is a small tank used for the moto.


Yamahai (山廃):

Yamahai is a refinement of the kimoto method for creating a yeast mash or starter. The yamahai method does not puree the mash but adds a little more liquid and takes a little more time to complete.


Yeast (酵母).:

Yeast is a micro organism that metabolizes sugars, producing equal parts alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast also produces many other compounds, flavors and esters.


Yuki-bie (雪冷え):

Yuki-bie, a term for sake temperature, is “snow chilled” (5°C / 41°F).