• Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 1
  • Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 2
  • Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 3
  • Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 4
  • Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 5

Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!

Our editors and searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Kakaku.com) for the best sweet Japanese sakes. We then chose the 9 most popular products and tested them along with three sake specialists


We rated each sake's deliciousness by analyzing three factors: its level of sweetness, the strength of its aroma, and the strength of its flavor. We then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the best sweet Japanese sakes available online.

This article's specialists

Yuichi Josen
  • Last updated: 01-09-2020
  • 725 views
Table of Contents

What is Sweet Sake?

What is Sweet Sake?

If you're not a newcomer to the world of sake, feel free to skip ahead to the ranking. For those of you that just happened to click on this or are curious to learn more about Japanese sake, we thought we'd give you a rundown of what exactly sweet sake is.


Sake is generally thought of in two types of flavor: dry and sweet. Sweet sakes have a higher sugar content. While sake has official classifications such as junmai-shu and junmai ginjo, there's no official "dry" or "sweet" rating. Sake makers came up with this classification themselves to help customers better envision what their wares would taste like.


Because of this, there are those who may find sweet sakes to taste dry or vice versa. Keep this in mind when reading our ranking; after all, your own taste buds are ultimately the deciding factor.

Top 9 Best Sweet Japanese Sakes to Buy Online

We picked out 9 of the most popular products and tested them for the following: how sweet it was, how strong its aroma was, and how strong its flavor was. Our impressions for category were then averaged into a final score of deliciousness


Then, based on how they performed on our tests, we graded and ranked the top 9 sweet Japanese sakes available online.


※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.

1
Japanese亀泉 純米吟醸生原酒
ClassificationJunmai ginjo
Sake meter value/acidity-13 / 1.8
Type of riceHattan-nishiki
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthAverage
Overall score4.2
2
Japanese大関 極上の甘口
ClassificationTable sake
Sake meter value/acidity-50 / 2.3
Type of rice-
Level of sweetnessSweet
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthStrong
Overall score4.0
3
Japanese村祐 「黒」純米大吟醸 無濾過本生 濃醇甘口
ClassificationJunmai Daiginjo
Sake meter value/acidity-
Type of rice-
Level of sweetnessVery sweet
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthStrong
Overall score3.8
4
Sweet Japanese Sakes Matsuzaki Brewery, Hirotogawa Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz 1

Matsuzaki Brewery, HirotogawaHirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz

$18.60

Japanese松崎酒造店 廣戸川 廣戸川 純米吟醸 無濾過生原酒
ClassificationJunmai Ginjo
Sake meter value/acidity+2 / 1.4
Type of riceYume no Kaori
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthAverage
Overall score3.5
5
Japanese花泉酒造 ロ万(ろまん) 純米吟醸酒
ClassificationJunmai ginjo
Sake meter value/acidity0 / 2.0
Type of riceGohyakumangoku, Yume no Kaori, Himenomochi
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthAverage
Overall score3.3
6
Sweet Japanese Sakes Iinuma Meijo Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz 1

Iinuma MeijoSugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz

$15.88

Japanese飯沼銘醸 姿 純米吟醸無濾過生原酒
ClassificationJunmai Ginjo
Sake meter value/acidity+2 / 1.7
Type of riceOmachi
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthFaint
Flavor strengthAverage
Overall score3.3
7
Japanese梅錦山川 梅錦 純米吟醸
ClassificationJunmai ginjo
Sake meter value/acidity0 / 1.8
Type of riceYamada Nishiki
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthAverage
Flavor strengthAverage
Overall score2.8
8
Japanese新政 亜麻猫 白麹仕込 純米酒
ClassificationJunmai
Sake meter value/acidity-15 / 2.2
Type of riceAkita-shu Komachi
Level of sweetnessAverage
Aroma strengthFaint
Flavor strengthLight and delicate
Overall score0.0
9
Japanese向井酒造 伊根満開 赤米酒
Classification-
Sake meter value/acidity-18 / 6
Type of riceGohyakumangoku, Kodaimai
Level of sweetnessVery sweet
Aroma strengthStrong
Flavor strengthStrong
Overall score2.5

Compare the Best Sweet Japanese Sakes

Image
1
Sweet Japanese Sakes Kameizumi Kameizumi Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz 1

Kameizumi

2
Sweet Japanese Sakes Ozeki Ozeki Gokujo no Amakuchi, 24.3 oz 1

Ozeki

3
Sweet Japanese Sakes Murayu Brewery Murayu Kuro Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Rich and Sweet, 24.3 oz 1

Murayu Brewery

4
Sweet Japanese Sakes Matsuzaki Brewery, Hirotogawa Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz 1

Matsuzaki Brewery, Hirotogawa

5
Sweet Japanese Sakes Hanaizumi Brewery Roman Junmai Ginjo Sake, 60.9 oz 1

Hanaizumi Brewery

6
Sweet Japanese Sakes Iinuma Meijo Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz 1

Iinuma Meijo

7
Sweet Japanese Sakes Umenishiki Yamakawa Umenishiki Junmai Ginjo, 60.9 oz 1

Umenishiki Yamakawa

8
Sweet Japanese Sakes Aramasa Amaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu, 24.3 oz 1

Aramasa

9
Sweet Japanese Sakes Mukai Brewery Ine Mankai Red Rice Sake, 60.9 oz 1

Mukai Brewery

Name

Kameizumi Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz

Ozeki Gokujo no Amakuchi, 24.3 oz

Murayu Kuro Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Rich and Sweet, 24.3 oz

Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz

Roman Junmai Ginjo Sake, 60.9 oz

Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake, 24.3 oz

Umenishiki Junmai Ginjo, 60.9 oz

Amaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu, 24.3 oz

Ine Mankai Red Rice Sake, 60.9 oz

FeaturesThe Very Best Sweet Japanes...The Best Sweet Sake for Lig...The Sweetest of Sweet Japan...The Best Mild-tasting Sweet...Good Balance of Sweet and A...A Sake That's More Bitter T...A Sweet Sake That Would Tas...Too Acidic to Be A Good Swe...More of a Rose Wine Than a ...
Price$15.68$7.93$81.79$18.60$27.52$15.88$23.01$32.48$33.21
Japanese亀泉 純米吟醸生原酒大関 極上の甘口村祐 「黒」純米大吟醸 無濾過本生 濃醇甘口松崎酒造店 廣戸川 廣戸川 純米吟醸 無濾過生原酒花泉酒造 ロ万(ろまん) 純米吟醸酒飯沼銘醸 姿 純米吟醸無濾過生原酒梅錦山川 梅錦 純米吟醸新政 亜麻猫 白麹仕込 純米酒向井酒造 伊根満開 赤米酒
ClassificationJunmai ginjoTable sakeJunmai DaiginjoJunmai GinjoJunmai ginjoJunmai GinjoJunmai ginjoJunmai-
Sake meter value/acidity-13 / 1.8-50 / 2.3-+2 / 1.40 / 2.0+2 / 1.70 / 1.8-15 / 2.2-18 / 6
Type of riceHattan-nishiki--Yume no KaoriGohyakumangoku, Yume no Kaori, HimenomochiOmachiYamada NishikiAkita-shu KomachiGohyakumangoku, Kodaimai
Level of sweetnessAverageSweetVery sweetAverageAverageAverageAverageAverageVery sweet
Aroma strengthAverageAverageAverageAverageAverageFaintAverageFaintStrong
Flavor strengthAverageStrongStrongAverageAverageAverageAverageLight and delicateStrong
Overall score4.24.03.83.53.33.32.80.02.5
Link

Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge

Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge

{Left: Daisuke Takigawa}
Alcohol Enjoyment Planner

Along with being a certified Sake Advisor and Shochu Advisor, he is a lecturer on sake studies, a sake sommelier, and official taster for the Sake Service Institute (SSI). 


Takigawa became interested in Japanese sake while he was a student, and he wasted no time in acquiring his Sake Advisor certificate by becoming an employee at a store that sold many types of sake. After that, he became the manager of the Junmai-shu Sake Store YATA located in Kanda Nihonbashi. Takigawa boasts that he's such a fan of heated sake he once drank over 10,000 servings in a year.


In recent years, he has become a freelance alcohol adviser to help others understand the appeal of other types of alcohol. 


His favorite type of sake: one that has depth and makes you imagine possibilities; a mysterious sake.


{Center: Reina}
Japanese Sake Ambassador


Reina holds certifications in Japanese sake, international alcohols, cooking, and kimono instructing. 


She was named "Miss Kura 2017" and winner of a Japanese sake beauty pageant, and since then she has been using Instagram to show others the appeal of Japanese sake. She also works as a Japanese sake writer, visiting sake breweries around Japan and writing articles about them. Her Instagram account (@love_sake_tokyo) has over 5,000 followers and she also has experience planning and managing Japanese sake breweries and companies.


Her favorite type of sake: fruity and one with a distinct flavor.


{Right: Yuichi Josen}

Sake Advisor and Japanese Sake Evangelist


Josen holds a degree in Brewing Science Studies from Tokyo University of Agriculture. He has been known (and teased) since then as "The Sake Advisor with a Low Alcohol Tolerance," and he spends his days writing about Japanese sake to both spread and enlighten others.


He most enjoys sake without prejudice or preconception, simply imagining what kind of place it would suit or what kind of food it would be good with. His motto is "making compromises with Japanese sake fans."


His favorite type of sake: Nothing in particular. For this test, he focused on sake that would be easy for beginners to drink.

How We Tested the Sake

How We Tested the Sake

Our sake specialists taste tested each of the sakes at room temperature. They scored each beverage based on its smell and taste, as well as how easily it went down the throat. 

How We Tested the Sake

Sake that struck a divine balance between sweet and sour received the highest scores. If a sake is just sweet, then it starts to taste like juice; adding some acidity gives the flavor depth and brings out the essence of the rice.

Yuichi Josen
Sake Advisor and Japanese Sake Evangelist
Yuichi Josen

"Raw sake" (生酒) is common among sweet sakes, and while that means it's fresh, its flavor varies widely depending on how it's been stored.


When sake is spoiled, it gives off a specific type of scent called "hinekaori" (ひね香) among sake fans. It loses its flavor when spoiled, so to avoid this, keep it in a cool place away from light.

How to Choose a Sweet Sake - Buying Guide

Here are three big things to look out for.

① Read the Bottle: Negative Numbers Mean More Sweetness

① Read the Bottle: Negative Numbers Mean More Sweetness

If you're new to the world of sake, you may be wondering what all of those numbers in the table meant. Well, that's the Sake Meter Level (SMV), and it indicates the sugar content in a sake. Anything in the positive numbers is considered dry, and anything in the negative numbers is sweet.


If you're looking for an average sweet sake, look for an SMV between -3.5 and -5.9. Anything below -6.0 is considered super sweet. However, if you get too low in the negative numbers, some people claim it starts to taste dry. Sample different SMVs for yourself and get a feel for what you like.

② Save Junmai Daiginjo Sake for Special Occasions

② Save Junmai Daiginjo Sake for Special Occasions

The words "junmai" and "ginjo" and "daiginjo" have been thrown around a lot in this ranking, but we haven't really explained them, have we? These are some of the 8 different classifications of Japanese sake. What separates them from one another is their main ingredients, method of production, and ratio of polished rice.

・Junmai-shu (純米酒), or sake made using only rice and koji (malted rice)
Junmai-shu (純米酒)
Tokubetsu junmai-shu (特別純米酒)
Junmai ginjo (純米吟醸)
Junmai daiginjo (純米大吟醸)

・Non-junmaishu types of sake
Honjozo-shu (本醸造酒)
Tokubetsu honjozo-shu (特別本醸造酒)
Ginjo-shu (吟醸酒)
Daiginjo-shu (大吟醸酒)

Junmai daiginjo is considered to be the top rank of Japanese sake; it's very expensive and tends to be served only on special occasions. If you're looking for most affordable sake, we suggest trying junmai-shu or honjozo-shu

③ Consider the Flavor of the Rice

③ Consider the Flavor of the Rice

Japan has a huge variety of rice, and each type has its own unique flavor that is brought out best with sake. Most sweet sakes are made with mild Miyama Nishiki (美山錦) or Yamada Nishiki (山田錦) rice. On the other end of the spectrum are varieties like Gohyakuman-goku (五百万石) rice, which has a bit of a bite to it.


By sampling different types of sake and reading the label on the bottle to see what kind of rice it's made with, you can start to get a feel of what each type of rice brings to the beverage. 

Want to Try Other Japanese Alcohol? Check out Our Other Reviews

Japan loves alcohol just as much as the next person, and that includes us. Here are some other Japanese alcohols we've tried and tested so that you have a better idea of where to start looking.

Summary

We rounded up three Japanese sake experts, purchased the 9 most popular sweet Japanese sakes, and tested them all.


We learned that the best of the best sweet sakes have a lower Sake Meter Value, are of the Junmai Daiginjo variety, and balance sweet and sour flavors to create a balanced and refreshing flavor. We think the best way to find what kind of sweet sake you like is to sample a large variety, but we hope we've given you a good place to start.

Author: Sayako Suzuki/Translation: Shannon McNaught/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yuuki Inagaki, Hiroshi Takigawa

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