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JUNMAI

OVERVIEW


Junmai-shu is a style of Japanese sake made with only four main ingredients: rice, water, yeast, and koji (a type of fungus). Junmai-shu is known for its purity and simplicity, as it does not contain any added alcohol or other ingredients.


The word "Junmai" translates to "pure rice," indicating that this style of sake is made solely from rice without any added alcohol or sugar. The use of only four ingredients and the absence of added alcohol results in a sake that is often richer and fuller in flavor than other types of sake.





HISTORY


Junmai sake is a style of sake that has a long history in Japan, dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). During this time, sake was mainly produced by monks in temples and was used as an offering to the gods. It wasn't until the Meiji era (1868-1912) that sake production became more widespread and commercialized.


In the early days of sake production, Junmai sake was the most common style of sake, as it was easier to produce and did not require as much equipment or technical expertise as other styles. However, as sake production became more industrialized in the 20th century, other styles such as Ginjo and Daiginjo became more popular.


Despite this, Junmai sake has maintained a loyal following among sake enthusiasts, who appreciate its pure, robust flavor and full-bodied texture. Junmai sake can range from dry and crisp to rich and full-bodied, depending on the specific brewing techniques used and the rice and water used in the process.


Today, Junmai sake is produced in many regions of Japan, including Niigata, Hiroshima, and Kyoto, among others. It continues to be a beloved style of sake that is enjoyed both in Japan and around the world.


STYLES

  1. Junmai - The rice used to make Junmai sake has a milling rate of at least 70%, meaning that at least 30% of the outer layer of the rice kernel has been milled away. This results in a sake with a robust flavor and full-bodied texture.

  2. Junmai Ginjo - The rice used to make Junmai Ginjo sake has a milling rate of at least 60%, resulting in a lighter and more refined flavor than Junmai sake.

  3. Junmai Daiginjo - The rice used to make Junmai Daiginjo sake has a milling rate of at least 50%, resulting in an even lighter and more delicate flavor than Junmai Ginjo.

  4. Tokubetsu Junmai - The rice used to make Tokubetsu Junmai sake has a milling rate of at least 60%, but the sake has been brewed with special attention to a particular aspect of the brewing process, such as the type of yeast used or the temperature at which it is fermented.

AROMAS/FLAVORS


Junmai:

Junmai sake is known for its full-bodied flavor and robust aroma. It has a rich, rice-forward taste with notes of nuttiness and earthiness, as well as a slightly sweet finish. The aroma is often described as having hints of koji, rice, and umami, and may have a slight alcohol aroma.


Junmai Ginjo:

Junmai Ginjo sake has a more delicate flavor than Junmai sake, with a fruity aroma and a lighter, cleaner taste. It is made using a more labor-intensive process, in which the rice is milled to at least 60% of its original size before being brewed. This results in a sake with a more refined flavor and aroma, often with notes of pear, apple, and tropical fruit.


Junmai Daiginjo:

Junmai Daiginjo sake is the most refined of the Junmai styles, with the rice being milled to at least 50% of its original size before brewing. This results in a sake with a delicate, fruity flavor and a floral aroma. It is often described as having notes of melon, peach, and grapefruit, with a clean, crisp finish.


Tokubetsu Junmai:

Tokubetsu Junmai is a special designation given to sake that meets certain production requirements, such as the use of specific rice varieties or production methods. It can have a range of flavors and aromas, depending on the specific style and ingredients used. Generally, Tokubetsu Junmai sake has a full-bodied, rich flavor and a slightly sweet finish, with a subtle aroma of koji and rice.

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