All about Pasteurization in Sake Making Process

sake tasting
Try Raw Sake!

We know that Japanese like raw things, such as raw fish, raw beef, raw eggs, etc. —-As well as raw sake. So there is a kind of special sake called Namasake, which has a sharper aroma and fresher taste than normal sakes, because it is unpasteurized. However, most regular kinds of sake have been pasteurized, to kill a kind of lactic acid bacteria so that sake can be preserved longer. So today let’s take a glimpse of the PASTEURIZATION.

How Did Pasteurization Started and How You Do it?

Pasteurization is named after a French biochemist called Louis Pasteur, who invented this method in 1866. But it is said that long before 1866, brewers in Japan were deactivating enzymes and killing unwanted bacteria in a sake making process, just without realizing it.
Nowadays, pasteurization process has been much more developed, it can be done with modern facilities, more easily and more precisely. Generally, brewers do by passing the sake through a coiled metal pipe that sits in a vat of heated water and then moving it to a tank, or by simply immersing bottled sake in hot water. And pasteurization is achieved by heating the sake for about 30 minutes at about 65°C (150 °F).

Usually this process is done twice, ① once after filtration, and ② once before bottling. Sakes can be categorized differently according to how many times it’s pasteurized ——
Normal sake — both ① and ②
Namatsume — only ①
Namatyozo — only ②
Namasake — not pasteurized at all

Pasteurization Method of Sake Continues to Evolve

Recently, another a little special pasteurization is used by some sake breweries. For example, Gekkeikan has produced a new sake recently, called Densyo (hyakunenkoubosikomi). During the pasteurization of Densyo, they pass the sake through the pipe to heat it to 65°C, but right after that they cool it down to a low temperature. So the pasteurization is only done for 1 or 2 seconds, instead of 30 minutes as usual. This very short period pasteurization helps to keep more original aroma and flavors left inside the sake so that you can enjoy it more exquisitely. By the way, the yeast used for this bottle is also very special. It is a traditional yeast mostly used 100 years ago, and revived recently for a 100-year celebration. Definitely a must try sake!

Join Our Sake Tour!

sake tasting

Do you also want to try great local sake produced in Kyoto while visiting the city? Join our sake tour on a Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour. You’ll get to taste and learn about a variety of sake. It’s the best way to discover the secrets of sake and Kyoto culture!

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   Highly recommend this tour. Kotaro was the perfect guide and incredibly knowledgeable. A great opportunity to learn the complexities of the sake varieties and brewing process.

    thumb Coastal02482194200
    10/13/2019
  •   Thanks for the nice Sake Experience. We really liked the setup to find the right sake for you and how to recognise it in the shop or on a menu. We tasted sake in combination with food, which brought a nice extra layer to the...More

    thumb Martijnv1135
    10/12/2019
  •   This was definitely a worthwhile experience to both learn about and enjoy sake. I came away knowing much better about my sake preferences and how to find them!

    thumb TS7521
    10/12/2019
  •   This is an excellent way to learn about sake. We can now read a sale label and understand what we are looking at plus we know what type of sake we like. Well worth the money.

    thumb PamelaBM1959
    10/12/2019
  •   A very informative experience. I learned a lot about how sake is produced, how the taste varies, and how to choose which sake to purchase. The best part was obviously the sake tasting, which included some quite unique varieties. The guide was very well-informed and...More

    thumb Courtney C
    10/11/2019
  •   Kotaro and Marika were fantastic guides on this interesting and informative tour. Had a great time learning more about the Nihonshu-making process (sake just means alcohol in Japanese), the history of it in Fushimi, the different types of Nihonshu, and how to pair food with...More

    thumb alexaroundworld
    10/09/2019
  •   This was the most educational tour I think I have ever been on! Not only did I learn so much about Sake and Japanese culture and history, but it was also great value for money. I highly recommend the 3 hour tour, we almost went...More

    thumb kjonsson2015
    10/08/2019
  •   We booked last minute onto this tasting and only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner on our trip around Japan. Kotaro was a great host. We learnt about “mouth seasoning” , how best to drink sake and how its taste also changes with...More

    thumb KerryQ24
    10/08/2019
  •   We visited the Kyoto Insider Sake Experience (KISE) as a large group of 6 people (two couples and grown children - drinking age in Japan is 20, so this isn't for kids or teens). We were all eager to learn a bit more about a...More

    thumb PKRead26
    10/07/2019
  •   We had initially been unable to attend, but Kotaro was so kind, and we had been able to reschedule for another day, and we're so happy for it!!! It was so much fun tasting all the sake, and figuring out how to read the labels,...More

    thumb thisisnichie
    10/07/2019

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