• 9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed 1
  • 9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed 2
  • 9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed 3
  • 9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed 4
  • 9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed 5

9 Best Tried and True Sweet Sakes in 2022 - Sake Expert-Reviewed

Sweet sakes have a smooth, mellow flavor that makes them easy to drink and popular among people who enjoy cocktails and wine. However, it's surprisingly difficult to find actual sweet sakes on the market. Among those you can find, we tested to find what was the most delicious.


We searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Kakaku.com) for the best sweet sakes, chose the 9 most popular products, tested them along with three sake specialists, then rated each sake's deliciousness by analyzing its level of sweetness and the strength of its aroma and flavor. Lastly, we compiled our results into a buying guide about and list of the best sweet sakes available online with extra tips from expert Sandra Gwee.

Experts featured in this article

Yuichi Josen
Sandra Gwee
  • Last updated: 01-12-2022
Table of Contents

In Collaboration with Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

In Collaboration with Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

Sandra Gwee is an SSA certified sake educator, sommelier, scholar, and the Director of Kodawari Sake Education. Based in Perth, Australia, she has a passion for introducing sake to new audiences through live events, tasting sessions, and education. You can catch up with her on her website, Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram to learn more about sake. 

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.

Why Choose a Sweet Sake?

Why Choose a Sweet Sake?

According to sake expert, Sandra Gwee, whom we'll introduce later, the taste is one of the most important reasons to choose a sweet sake. Sweetness is always experienced first before other flavors and it's especially good to focus on for most beginners new to sake and who don't understand the flavors of sake yet. 


Buying a sweet sake first is a great choice when starting to learn about the drink. Also, most drinkers who choose sweet sakes tend to have a sweet tooth, liking drinks such as Moscato, sparkling wine, Umeshu, mixers, or cocktails. 

Why Choose a Sweet Sake?

These kinds of drinkers are known as sweet and easy drinkers who always want something sweet in an alcoholic drink where the sweet profile masks the alcohol flavor. So nigori, plum sake, yuzu sake, or carbonated sparkling sakes will fit their palettes most.


The rich, sweet flavor comes from the rice used to create the drink. The flavor of the rice breaks through the acidity of the drink, and, unless you are sensitive to alcohol, you can really enjoy the natural sweetness stemming from this base ingredient.


However, everyone has a different sense of taste and will detect different levels of sweetness, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly what you'd like without first trying out different drinks.

9 Best Sweet Sakes

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 each 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 sakes available online.


※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing. Please note that these products were not picked by the collaborating experts, but chosen through extensive research and by combing through customer reviews by our staff at mybest.

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

Murayu BreweryKuro Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Rich and Sweet

24.3 oz.

$87.80

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 Sakes Matsuzaki Brewery Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake 1

Matsuzaki BreweryHirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake

24.3 oz.

$32.92

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 Sakes Iinuma Meijo Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake 1

Iinuma MeijoSugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake

60.9 oz.

$57.01

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
Sweet Sakes Aramasa Amaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu 1

AramasaAmaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu

24.3 oz.

$67.84

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 Sakes

Image
1
Sweet Sakes Kameizumi Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake 1

Kameizumi

2
Sweet Sakes Ozeki Gokujo no Amakuchi 1

Ozeki

3
Sweet Sakes Murayu Brewery Kuro Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Rich and Sweet 1

Murayu Brewery

4
Sweet Sakes Matsuzaki Brewery Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake 1

Matsuzaki Brewery

5
Sweet Sakes Hanaizumi Brewery Roman Junmai Ginjo Sake 1

Hanaizumi Brewery

6
Sweet Sakes Iinuma Meijo Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake 1

Iinuma Meijo

7
Sweet Sakes Umenishiki Yamakawa Umenishiki Junmai Ginjo 1

Umenishiki Yamakawa

8
Sweet Sakes Aramasa Amaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu 1

Aramasa

9
Sweet Sakes Mukai Brewery Ine Mankai Red Rice Sake 1

Mukai Brewery

Name

Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake

Gokujo no Amakuchi

Kuro Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Rich and Sweet

Hirotogawa Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake

Roman Junmai Ginjo Sake

Sugata Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Sake

Umenishiki Junmai Ginjo

Amaneko Shirokoji Shikomi Junmai-shu

Ine Mankai Red Rice Sake

Features

Has a Refreshing Flavor and a Just Right Profile

Citrusy Flavor and Low Alcohol Content for Light Drinkers

Perfectly Sweet Like Honey

A Mild-Tasting and Faintly Scented Sweet Sake

Has a Good Balance of Sweet and Acidic

A Sake That's More Bitter Than Sweet

A Sweet Sake That Would Taste Better Warmed

Too Acidic to Be A Good Sweet Sake

More of a Rose Wine Than a Sweet Sake

Price$33.91$10.19$87.80$32.92$37.11$57.01$33.22$67.84$30.93
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 Helped Us Test the Products

Introducing the Experts Who Helped Us Test the Products

{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 an official taster for the Sake Service Institute (SSI). 


{Center: Reina}
Japanese Sake Ambassador


Reina holds certifications in Japanese sake, international alcohols, cooking, and kimono instructing. She also works as a Japanese sake writer and has experience planning and managing Japanese sake breweries and companies. 


{Right: Yuichi Josen}

Sake Advisor and Japanese Sake Evangelist


Josen holds a degree in Brewing Science Studies from Tokyo University of Agriculture. He spends his days writing about Japanese sake to both spread and enlighten others.

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" 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" 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 when choosing a sweet sake that fits with your flavor profile.

Read the Bottle: Negative Numbers Mean More Sweetness

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.

Sandra Gwee
Sake Educator & Sake Scholar
Sandra Gwee

Negative numbers mean that the sake is sweeter. And you're more likely to be able to see the sweetness levels in sparkling sakes, as they are always measured in SMV. It is actually quite an accurate measurement. 


But I find that with normal sakes SMV isn't quite as accurate in measuring sweetness. Rather, temperature plays a key role. The type of rice used in the production process to bring out the richness in the flavor of the drink is also important in determining sweetness. 


In rich sakes, it's easy to bring out the sweetness of the drink even if it initially has a dry profile. By changing the temperature at which it's served, dry or extra dry sakes will become sweeter. I find this to be quite interesting and I've played with karakuchi, or dry, sakes and experienced this phenomenon many times. I mostly use the SMV as a guide, as the sweetness is more dependant on temperature.

Save Junmai Daiginjo Sake for Special Occasions

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 their 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)
Save Junmai Daiginjo Sake for Special Occasions

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 the most affordable sake, we suggest trying junmai-shu or honjozo-shu

Sandra Gwee
Sake Educator & Sake Scholar
Sandra Gwee

I wouldn't say that you really need to wait for a special occasion to drink junmai daiginjo. In Japan, daiginjo is known to be special and a waste to drink frequently, so it may be drunk only on special occasions. 


However, over here in Australia, daiginjo is enjoyed simply to appreciate the quality of the drink. Although everyone's palette is different, most people enjoy how smooth and clean daiginjos are. They do also understand that it may be pricey, but I say drink daiginjo if it tastes good and use it to toast the brewers' hard work.

Consider the Flavor of the Rice

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. 

Sandra Gwee
Sake Educator & Sake Scholar
Sandra Gwee

The flavor of the rice is definitely something to keep in mind, but it's not as important for beginners to consider. In fact, sometimes people may find the flavor of rice in sake to be too strong, especially in certain sake-specific rice types. 


Typical rice variety sakes tend to be easier on the palette, whereas sake-specific rice can confuse and be too strong for a beginner's taste buds. Experienced wine drinkers have already tried many different types of drinks and have developed their palettes, so are more accepting of stronger rice sakes. You really have to develop your palette to be able to appreciate the full flavor of sake.


If you really want to focus on rice flavor, though, you need to understand the origin of the rice. For example, Omachi rice has a lovely mouthfeel and richness that is absolutely delicious. Gohyakumangoku rice is lovely and soft and doesn't have a strong rice taste. Yamadanishiki rice is deep, rich, fruity, and has a lot of depth.

Extra Tips From Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

Extra Tips From Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

When pairing sake with food, you need to consider the taste. Since we're talking about sweet sakes, you should match sweet sakes with sweet foods. In the case of rich food, match it with a rich sake; light foods match with Ginjos. These are basic, tried and true pairings.


Perfectly matching the flavors of both food and sake takes skill. The thing about food, especially Japanese food, is that there are layers of elements that have been combined together that people don't really consider since they're just there to enjoy the experience. But it's good to remember that no matter what kind of food you match with Japanese sake it will never really clash.


However, when pairing sake, unless you are a brewer, it can be hard to understand how to match your drinks perfectly. 

Extra Tips From Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

But when layers of flavors come into play, you really have to have a thorough understanding of both the sake and food you're plating. For me, I go over every detail, especially if I am holding an event where I have a chef prepare the food.


For example, I need to know what the chef is doing for each dish. I also look for how dedicated and how precise the chef is. If they aren't dedicated or aren't precise, then the food won't shine when paired with sake and vice versa. 

Extra Tips From Sake Expert Sandra Gwee

But having said that, it's also fun to try pairing sake with non-traditional flavors. For example, I have discovered unique ways to introduce Japanese sake to the Australian market by pairing sake with foods you wouldn't normally think of trying sake with. Have you ever tried sake with chocolate or cheese? It's a fun and delicious combination.


Lastly, the best way to drink sake is to slowly drink it from small ochoko cups. This encourages small sips, whereas a wine glass would actually make people want to drink faster. Take turns drinking and eating your paired food to see how the profile of the drink changes and how the sake can enhance the food experience.

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

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.

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


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