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!

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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

  •   I cannot say enough positive things about the Sake Experience that my wife and I went on yesterday. Getting to see the old sake brewery was a really cool experience. Asahi was an amazing guide - super knowledgeable and really made the whole tour and...More

    thumb Hughesedwardmarc
    6/23/2019
  •   Myself, my wife and two adult sons were with us. We had a fantastic time and we now feel informed about Sake! Would recommend.

    thumb RichardJamesStrauch
    6/22/2019
  •   This is was one of the highlights of our trip to the Kyoto area. I have always been interested in learning more about sake, and I learned so much from this tour and tasting experience. Kotaro was amazing in both his knowledge and patience. The...More

    thumb Jen W
    6/21/2019
  •   As a wine lover I really appreciated this tasting experience. It was a great history and lesson into the details of what sake is and how it is made. Asahi obviously has a great passion for sake and it shows in his enthusiasm as he...More

    thumb chris12graham
    6/21/2019
  •   I didn’t know anything about sake prior to this experience. Great balance of knowledge and leisure. Highly recommend.

    thumb amanduhbee
    6/21/2019
  •   This was an absolutely fantastic tour! Kotaro was the perfect guide - friendly, personable and extremely knowledgeable and patient! We came into this with varying degrees of knowledge (and taste for) Sake among us, but we learned a ton! We had no idea there was...More

    thumb tctravelsforever
    6/21/2019
  •   Amazing sake learning experience! We scheduled the evening sake class and were so happy to meet and learn from Asahi. He was extremely knowledgeable, sharing excellent information with us, sake novices. We tasted a selection of seven different types of sake, all of which exemplified...More

    thumb cc g
    6/21/2019
  •   We were very impressed by the tour, which was great fun and we also learned a lot. It was an insight into Japanese culture through the drink and food. Very professional and pleasant guides

    thumb 996debbieo
    6/19/2019
  •   The Kyoto Insider Sake Experience was great! 3 hours flew by. We had a ton of fun and learned a lot about sake production, sake food pairings, and sake in general!

    thumb jocelynpe
    6/10/2019
  •   A group of 6 of us enjoyed the sake brewery tour and tasting experience. It was interesting seeing the brewery and the process to make the sake however this probably could’ve been a bit quicker. The tasting and learning about the different types of sake...More

    thumb Destination726043
    6/10/2019

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