There are lots of sake styles to discover and enjoy. One of them is taruzake, a sake with woody aromas and flavours. Let's figure out what taruzake is, how it is made, and where it stands among all other types of sake.
Taruzake is sake that has been aged in a wooden barrel or cask called a taru. It does not actually have to be sold in the taru cask itself, as long as it has spent some time in it before bottling.
taruzake cedar barrel
The traditional unit of measurement for taru casks is 'to', equal to 18 litres, and there are three main sizes: the smallest, 1-to, the next biggest, 2-to, about 50 cm and can hold up to 36 litres. The largest size, however, is four-to; it's the barrel used for the kagamibiraki ceremony, and barrels displayed outside shrines can measure 65 cm and hold 72 litres. In contrast, the 1-to serves about 60-140 people and is more common. The 4-to provides an Olympic opening ceremony scale volume of sake so that you won't come across it often.
There is no official definition of taruzake in Japanese alcohol laws. It is, however, necessary to store the product for a minimum period of time in taru so that the flavours and aromas develop enough to identify it as a product of intentional taru storage rather than accidental contact with wooden equipment.
In the Edo period, sake was not only fermented and stored in tarus, but was also transported in them. There was nothing special about keeping sake in a taru in those days. In fact, nothing really changed. In the Edo period, wood was a way of life: houses were built from it, cooking equipment was made from it, and people's lives were scented with wood instead of air fresheners. As exemplified by the widespread practice of forest bathing or shinrinyoku, wood in Japan is often associated with relaxation, which brings one closer to nature.
Tarus are typically made with cedar or pine wood. Intertwined with the sake's inherent aroma, these wood types impart a distinctive freshness. As the sake ages in the barrel, it becomes more complex.
If you're looking for taruzake in the UK, we'll do our very best to provide you with a unique and wonderful experience. Be sure to check your email and our website for news about taruzake!