Have you Tried Nama-zake?

This article looks at what Nama-zake is and how best to enjoy it.


What is Nama-zake?

Sake is normally pasteurised twice at the end of production. Nama is basically draft (unpasteurised) sake and is one of the many exceptions to this rule. Not pasteurising means leaving live enzymes in the sake among which include living yeast cells, cells produced by the koji bacteria and the koji itself, all of which make for a much fresher more fragrant taste experience.

Changeable Product Quality

A sake that is technically still alive is always going to be a chore to maintain as far as product quality is concerned. As time passes, the flavour will go through a number of different transitions which include the appearance of a rather unpleasant sweetness and aroma. The only way to keep these transitions at bay is to refrigerate the sake.

In the past, sake brewing would coincide with the various festivals and religious rituals that took place throughout the year; it was sake that you had to consume on the spot. Nowadays of course, sake has a slightly longer shelf life thanks to the fridge — although no more than a matter of weeks or months.

How to Enjoy Nama-zake

The best way to enjoy Nama-zake is to chill it. At a lower temperature, Nama-zake offers up all kinds of invigorating and refreshing flavours. In the summer, each brewery releases a special type of Nama-zake that has been through a carefully controlled ageing process since its completion in the spring. There is no better match than the heat of summer and the gentle chill of Nama-zake.