Japan Plus

Perfect for Winter in Japan! What is Warm Alchohol “Atsu-kan”?

Atsu-kan

Trying out different alcohol is similar to trying out different ice cream flavors when you were a child. You have your favorite flavor, but there’s always space to try and experiment with other flavors. While wine and beer are more popular in the west, sake has a special place for most Japanese. It’s equivalent to how Russians feel about vodka or Mexicans about their tequila. If you ever find yourself drinking with a group of Japanese, you’ll most likely encounter someone drinking it. One thing to keep in mind when ordering sake in Japan is that while “sake” in English only means the alcohol beverage made out of fermented rice, in Japanese, “sake” actually refers to all alcoholic beverages. Yes, that’s right, “sake” in Japanese means booze. If you’re ever in Japan and you want to order sake at an izakaya, try using the word “nihonshu” to avoid a misunderstanding.

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The History of Sake

While there is a debate among the origin of sake, it was first documented during the Nara period (710 -794). As commerce evolved over the years, sake became regarded as a product important as much as rice. In the beginning. sake was produced only by the government, but since the Kamakura period (1185-1333) shrines started brewing their own sake. The brewing process that was detailed from this period are considered to be the basis of modern sake processing.

Taste of Sake

Sake is made from fermented rice. The taste of sake differs depending on the type of rice and water that are used. Regional sakes can taste different as the climates differ and can produce different kinds of rice and water. Here are four basic types of sake to know before buying your own bottle.

*Honjozo-shu

Honjozo-shu has distilled alcohol added in the ingredients. Adding distilled alcohol gives the sake a nice aroma.

*Junmai-shu

Junmai-shu does not have any distilled alcohol added and has a tends to have more of a rice-influenced taste.

*Ginjo-shu

To qualify as a ginjou-shu, at least 40% of the rice has to be milled away. In general, sake that uses highly milled rice are considered as “premium sake”.

*Daijinjo-shu

Daijinjo-shu is like the Dom Perignon of sake. It is top-notch quality. Daijinjo meaning “bigger jinjo” in Japanese, uses even more high milled rice than the jinjo-shu.

How to Prepare a Warm Sake at Home

The temperature is quickly dropping and we are fast approaching fall, while sake tastes amazing in any season, why not make yourself a warm glass of sake to keep yourself cozy in the colder months? Heating sake can change the flavor and add a more full-bodied taste to the sake than drinking it cold. Instead of getting a warm sake at the closest izakaya, why not try making your own?
Read along the instructions to find out how you can easily prepare this tasty drink from the comfort of your home.

(1)Pour sake into the sake pitcher until it is 90% full. Wrap the mouth with a plastic wrap to preserve the aroma of the sake.

(2)Prepare a pot of hot water and gently place the sake pitcher in the pot. Adjust the amount of water so it comes around half the height of the pitcher.

(3)Remove the pitcher and turn up the heat until it boils

(4)Once you turn off the heat, place the pitcher back in the pot.
**Tips:
An important thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to place the pitcher in a pot of hot water for a short time (2-3 minutes), rather than placing it in luke water for a long time.

(5)Remove the pitcher from the pot when the sake comes up to the mouth of the pitcher.

(6)Touch the bottom of the pitcher with your middle finger. If it feels rather hot, it should be the perfect temperature for warm sake.

**Tips:
The temperature may feel different depending on the material used for the pitcher. In general, 45℃ is considered to be the best temperature for warm sake. If you want to find out the ideal temperature for you, it’s best to try making warm sake multiple times and figuring it out as you go.

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