Namazake is a type of sake that is gaining popularity in Japanese sake. It is a unique and delicate style of unpasteurised sake, giving it a fresher, more vibrant taste. In this deep dive blog post, we will explore the origins of namazake, how it is made, and what makes it unique.
Origins of Namazake
Namazake's long history dates back to the 17th century in Japan. At that time, it was common to drink sake that had been pasteurised. This was a method used to kill any bacteria in the sake and ensure it would last longer. However, during the spring and summer months, the weather was warm, and there was a risk of sake spoiling during transportation. To solve this problem, brewers began producing unpasteurised sake, or namazake, intended to be consumed quickly after production.
The word namazake itself means “raw sake” or “unpasteurised sake.” Namazake is made using the same traditional brewing methods as other types of sake, but it is bottled and shipped without being pasteurized. This means it has a shorter shelf life and should be consumed within a few months of production.
How Namazake is Made
Namazake is made using the same basic steps as other types of sake. The process starts with steaming the rice to create the koji mould, which is used to break down the starches in the rice into fermentable sugars. Once the koji mould has been created, it is mixed with steamed rice and water to create the mash, which is left to ferment for several weeks.
After the fermentation process is complete, the sake is pressed and separated from the solids, which are called the lees. Typically, the sake would then be pasteurised to kill any remaining bacteria and extend its shelf life. However, in the case of namazake, the sake is bottled and shipped without pasteurising, giving it a fresher, more vibrant taste.
What Makes Namazake Unique
Namazake is unique in several ways. First and foremost, its lack of pasteurisation gives it a fresh, lively taste that is different from other types of sake. It has bright acidity and a crisp, clean finish that make it particularly refreshing and easy to drink.
Because it is unpasteurised, namazake must be kept refrigerated and consumed relatively quickly. This means that it is typically only available during certain times of the year, particularly in the spring and early summer when it is first released. Its limited availability and shorter shelf life make it a special treat that sake enthusiasts highly prize.
In addition to its fresh taste and limited availability, namazake is also prized for its versatility. It pairs well with various foods, from sushi and sashimi to grilled meats and vegetables. Its bright acidity and clean finish make it particularly well-suited to lighter, more delicate dishes, but it can also hold its own with richer, more complex flavours.
Namazake is a unique and delicate style of sake that sake enthusiasts prize for its fresh taste, limited availability, and versatility. Its lack of pasteurisation gives it a bright acidity and a crisp, clean finish, making it particularly refreshing and easy to drink. If you are a fan of sake or are looking to explore the world of Japanese spirits, namazake is worth seeking out.