Fortified with distilled liquor, Aruten Sake (Non-Junmai) draws out a more aromatic and lighter Sake. The distilled alcohol (mostly sugarcane-based) is added to the Sake and left to mature together once the fermentation process is completed.Due to rice shortages in the midst of World War 2, this method was born when the government permitted adding of brewer's alcohol into Sake-making. Although seemingly modern, the production of Non-Junmai has existed since the 1600s in Japan!
Few Aruten Sakes are exported to the larger international markets, such as the US and Hong Kong. It is likely due to this lack of Non-Junmai exposure throughout the world that there is a misconception today of such grades being inferior in terms of taste to Junmai. At Shukuu, we are strong supporters of Non-Junmai and we are constantly looking out for ways to prove the method’s qualities. Though Aruten Sake might have a distinct taste difference from their polished Junmai counterparts, that does not make it any less enjoyable!
Here are some Shukuu’s tasting notes of such grades:
Aruten Sakes shine when paired with food – and this is one of the best reasons to enjoy them! The Honjozo grade is a symbol of Izakaya dining and brings about a different dimension of taste when paired with saltier food! Producing Aruten Sakes also improves the shelf life of the brew and is more economical for smaller brewers. As a matter of fact, 80% of all Sake produced in Japan has added distilled alcohol.
Additionally, prestigious local Sake competitions that feature only Aruten Sakes are highly regarded and any brewer with a reputable Daiginjo commands respect in Sake communities. In some ways, this is similar to the success of a mixologist! Hence, if Junmai is the only choice you stand behind, it's time to think twice cause you might be missing out on a lot of good Sake! Check out our Aruten tasting notes here!