All about Pasteurization in Sake Making Process

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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!

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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

  •   My husband and I did the sake experience in late January with Kotaro. We had a great time! It was educational, memorable, and truly unique. We got to learn how sake is made, what sake means to Japanese culture, and more importantly, we got to...More

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    2/17/2020
  •   Kotaro was our passionate, informed guide. Great balance of education, history and local knowledge, all culminating in a generous sake tasting at the brewery and matched with food in the family home. Make the time to do the 3 hour tour - well worthwhile!

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    2/14/2020
  •   I’ve done beer and whiskey tours before but always wanted to find out more about nihonshu (Japanese sake). Kotaro San was very friendly and informative with a good sense of humor. Definitely would recommend this to anyone coming to Kyoto. We chose this over the...More

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    2/13/2020
  •   My friend and I had an amazing night with Kotaro as our guide. The tour was incredibly informative and interesting. The sake and food pairing was both delicious and enlightening. I highly recommend this experience. My only complaint is that I didn't take the time...More

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    2/10/2020
  •   This was my girlfriend and I’s first tasting tour and we can only hope that out others in the future will be as professional and well organized as this. Our group was a perfect size and the afterwards sake tasting and food paring was super...More

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    2/10/2020
  •   I am not usually one to go on tours while on holiday, but I am so glad I tried this Kyoto Insider Sake Experience! It was very interesting and insightful, and both Kotaru and Marika (they have a very clever way of remembering their name...More

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    2/09/2020
  •   My wife and I found a brochure in our hotel in Kyoto and this sake experience sounded interesting, when we got to the start location and meet Kotaro he was most welcoming to all the guests. During our experience he showed us how passionate/knowledgeable he...More

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    2/08/2020
  •   If you are visiting Kyoto, a town well known for sake, you have to join this experience. The tour has a good balance of being informative and interesting, my tour leader (Kotaro) is very professional and explains all I want but not too much (while...More

    thumb lancelotcym
    2/05/2020
  •   Kotaro-san was our guide and he is very meticulous in explaining the process and the different types of Sake. He shared many tips and it was very educating for us. We learnt so much, not only about sake, also about culture, location and history! Highly...More

    thumb momojellies
    2/03/2020
  •   Such an amazing tour- my husband I learned so much about sake and the Kyoto/fushimi area. This was by far the highlight of our Kyoto trip. Would recommend for anyone visiting the area!!

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    2/03/2020

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