If you’re drinking sake this summer (and I hope you are), make it Honjozo Sake.

Honjozo is a premium sake with a small amount of pure brewer’s alcohol added after fermentation. Alcohol has been added to sake since the early Edo period (1603-1868), for better preservation and to give life to flat sake. The addition of alcohol is careful and deliberate in premium sake – one of the many choices brewers can make post-fermentation to give varation to the style of sake. 

The added alcohol in Honjozo lifts the body and brings out the subtle aromas, making the sake crisp, aromatic, and delicious. Perfect for some easy summer drinking!

Tensei “Endless Summer” Tokubetsu Honjozo

 Kumazawa Brewery was founded in 1872 and has been in the family for almost 13 generations. In addition to the sake brewery there is also a beer brewery, a Japanese restaurant, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria, a bakery, and an art gallery on property. This sake comes from the Shonan region, also known as the surfer region of Japan, and it captures that feeling perfectly: bright and refreshing with oceanic salinity, apple, melon, and a touch of yeasty fortune-cookie savory-ness. AKA a Session Sake!

Eiko Fuji Honkara “Dry Mountain”

Located in the Yamagata region of northern Japan, the Fuji Brewing Company was founded in 1778 and is now led by the 13th generation of the Kato family. They named their sake after Mt. Fuji because they wanted their sake to be as glorious as this icon of Japan. Honkara is an abbreviation for Honjozo Karakuchi, which is a classic style of sake (Karakuchi means “dry”). Eiko Fuji Honkara has an aroma with notes of marshmallow and Japanese pear, and is silky on the palate with a crisp, dry finish.

Kasumi Tsuru “Crane of Kasumi” Yamahai Shiboritate Namachozo

Being the local pride is very important to Kasumi Tsuru, which is located in the region broadly known as Tajima. The company creed is “Tajima no Hokori tare (Do Tajima proud),” and their policy is “quality first, community first and cordiality first”. Kasumi Tsuru is unique in that it only crafts sake in the Kimoto and Yamahai brewing methods, which are laborious and time-consuming but give the sake distinct depth and flavor.

The Crane of Kasumi is robust with flavors of lychee and pineapple paired with the umami of roasted nuts and cashews, and complemented by subtle, sweet notes of caramel and sugarcane. Enjoy chilled or with an ice cube. (This Sake is Namachozo or pasteurized only once after storage, and best kept refrigerated.) 

Meet the Author

Tamiko Ishidate is the Director of Sake for Young’s Market Company – California. She is a Certified Sake Specialist (certified by the Sake Education Council), has achieved the WSET Level 3 Sake Award (with distinction), and was named a “Kikizake Maestro” (Master of Sake Tasting) by the Japan Brewer’s Association. Tamiko has been actively training and educating Young’s Market Company’s California teams about sake since she was certified as a WSET Level 3 Sake Instructor in Spring 2018. A native of Japan, she has been an active voice in the sake community and industry for over 13 years. An avid home cook, her passions lie in sake and food pairings.