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Onnomi, Seasonal -

For the 14th theartofsake Sake On-nomi, we will be covering a new topic, Seasonality in Japanese Sake! The definition of seasonal sake is sakes that are only available in certain periods of the year.

Sake is usually only brewed in the cold months in Japan, from October to March/April, however it can be bottled throughout the year, this leads to certain seasonal releases throughout the year, as you drink certain sakes to celebrate the season, or festivals. 

AUTUMN

As fall arrives and sake breweries prepare to start brewing, they release their first sakes of the brew year, Aki-Agari and/or Hiyaoroshi. 

Hiyaoroshi sakes are usually brewed during the tail end of the previous brew season in Spring. They are pasteurised just once after brewing (namezume), and left to mature in tanks through the hot months, and released during Fall. These sakes tend to have a lively yet complex, deep flavour. 

SPRING

When a brewery starts brewing sake for the new brew year, they usually hang a sugidama (Cedar Ball) outside the brewery. It starts off green, and gradually turns brown, signifying that sake is ready for sale.

These new sakes are usually released near spring-time, and mainly labelled as Shiboritate (Freshly Pressed) and Arabashir (Free Run). You might also see the word Shinshu which means new sake. Some breweries also release Hanami (Flower Viewing) Sake, which are usually in pink labels, for drinking while viewing flowers in the Spring!

As the first sake release, Spring Sakes tend to be bottled almost immediately after pressing and released without being left to mature for a few months. As such, these sakes tend to be very bright, with big wild flavours, especially if they are namazakes.

SUMMER

During the hot summer months, breweries start selling Natsuzakes (Summer Sakes). These are optional releases, but appear to be a growing trend. They tend to appear in light blue bottles.

Summer Sakes tend to be very light flavoured with lowered alcohol. They are usually refreshing, and can also appear as sparkling, lowered alcohol, and higher acidity. They are also meant to be drunk very chilled, some are even meant to be drunk on ice! It may be suitable for beginners to sake!


Please purchase your tasting sets at https://theartofsake.com/collections/ira-sake-onnomi

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