All About Honjozo-Shu, A Type of Japanese Sake
Sake is generally considered either junmai or honjozo based on its alcoholic content. Honjozo is virtually the same as junmai, except that it has honjozo (a small amount of brewer’s alcohol) added to the fermenting sake mash.
This means that labels without junmai on them can be assumed to be honjozo. Honjozo is virtually the same as junmai, except that it has honjozo (a small amount of brewer’s alcohol) added to the fermenting sake mash.
What’s in a Honjozo Sake?
Honjozo is a type of sake with two or more rice milling (polishing) steps, a low amount of brewer’s alcohol (about one percent alcohol) and a low amount of added alcohol.
Purists tend to avoid honjozo (甚号) because of the added alcohol, but the added alcohol is not enough to affect the taste. While many labels do not include the word honjozo, you can usually deduce by the label if sake is a honjozo by the description.
What Does Honjozo Sake Taste Like?
Honjozo Sake has a distinct flavour that is very similar to junmai sake. Both have a dryer finish and less rice flavour than nigori (cloudy) sake.
Honjozo sakes can be enjoyed either hot or cold (though not as good cold) but are typically enjoyed at room temperature. The savoriness of the food complements the dry, full flavours of honjozo well.
Honjozo sake has a light-dry taste with hints of sweetness and a fruity finish, followed by a clean and pleasant aftertaste. Honjozo is generally easier to find in the US than junmai, but both are more difficult than ginjo and daiginjo sakes.
How Does Honjozo Sake Taste Differently From Other Types of Sake?
Honjozo sake is similar to Junmai, and Honjozo is similar to sake made with the same grades of rice but with no alcohol allowed to be added.
Honjozo sakés are typically smoother than junmai sakés, with an overall higher acid content, higher acidity and a more dry finish. Honjozo sakes can be just as complex in flavour as junmai sakes.
Why Is Alcohol Added?
The added alcohol prevents the sake from being infected with wild yeasts or bacteria. Alcohol does not affect the flavour or texture of the sake.
Honjozo is the second most popular style of sake (junmai being the first) and the most popular style of sake in Japan. Honjozo has a stronger rice flavour than junmai, but both are typically lighter than daiginjo and ginjo sakes.
How to Enjoy Honjozo Sake
Honjozo sakés are commonly enjoyed cold or at room temperature; however, both can be enjoyed either cold or at room temperature.
If chilled, both junmai and honjozo sake are best served very cold. If you are looking for something to pair with your sushi, choose a chilled junmai.
Honjozo sakés are best served at room temperature; however, they can be enjoyed either cold or at room temperature. At room temperature, junmai and honjozo sake are best served slightly chilled.
Honjozo sakes should be kept refrigerated and are best enjoyed chilled. However, like all types of sake, they can be enjoyed at room temperature as well.
The flavour, aroma and texture of honjozo will change when hot or cold, so you should avoid drinking it if it is not at a temperature you enjoy.
Try Honjozo Sake Now
Honjozo is generally easier to find and can be found at less expensive prices than junmai. Honjozo is generally sweeter than junmai, but the taste is still generally full. Honjozo is a good entry-level sake since it is a high-quality sake at a lower cost.
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