The Japanese have enjoyed drinking hot sake (kanzake) for hundreds of years, so here are 5 of the best hot sakes for your tasting pleasure. Heating sake that is of a lower quality seems to mask the fact that it is rougher than some higher quality sakes which are better served slightly chilled, although there are some exceptions. Honjozo and junmai types of sake seem to lend themselves to warming better than some of the other types of sake. When sake is heated (not over 120 degrees) just a few degrees one way or the other can change the entire taste. Hot sake is more flavorful and dryer which goes really well with sushi, sashimi or hot pot dishes. When it is chilled it is crisper and has more aroma. Hot sake should be served in clay or ceramic cups. Incidentally, there are no sulfites in sake and it has no congeners that induce a hangover; however, it should still be consumed in moderation.
- Farmer’s Daughter. This sake uses a Manamusume rice that is rare and only grown in the Miyagi Prefecture. It comes in many flavors like yellow apple, pineapple, melon, milky coconut, and even fine flower pollen with a hint of cardamom and white pepper. Even though this is a fine quality sake, it can be served as a hot sake or chilled, depending on the way you like it.
- Three Dots. Two years of aging give this fine sake a very light amber color. It has a woodsy, nutty taste of macadamia and Brazil nuts. It also has a hint of coffee and white chocolate. Absolutely delicious, it can be enjoyed as either hot sake or chilled.
- Banzai Bunny / Star Rabbit. This delightful Hoshi Usagi Blueberry Sparkling Sake is a blueberry colored and flavored sake that can be served chilled or warmed. It is slightly sweet with a bready yeast and blueberry flavor. It has a clean sparkling refreshing taste with an alcohol content of only six to seven percent..
- Tozai Living Jewel. This junmai sake is made in Kyoto, Japan. It is named after the koi fish which is considered “living jewels” by the Japanese. The aroma is slightly fruity and it has a smooth tangy fruit taste. It can be served either warm or chilled with a large array of foods. Junmai sake is made from water, koji mold, yeast and rice. The rice is milled about 30% with 70% of the grain remaining. Another dry and earthy junmai hot sake that can be consumed with vegetable dishes is Ama No To “Heaven’s Door.”
- Tozai Well of Wisdom. This honjozo sake is made from pure natural spring water from Osaka. It has an aroma of a spring flower mixed with vanilla and almonds. The flavor is crisp and fruity yet it has a vanilla, steamed rice aspect to it. The sake is clear and has a strong alcohol presence which leaves a warm, yet cool, feeling. Honjozo sake is made from rice, water, koji mold, and yeast and has some distilled alcohol added. The rice is milled about 30% with 70% of the grain remaining. This sake appears to taste differently to each individual.