Types of rice used for producing sake and their degree of polishing;
Genmai (unpolished rice), 100% – sake made with rice polished so it retains at least 70 percent of its original size is classified as futsu (literally, normal sake). High-quality sake rice is rarely used for this type of sake.
Rice for Honjozo, 70% or less – classified as honjozo, the rice is polished so that no more than 70 percent of the grain remains. Honjozo is sake to which a small amount of distilled alcohol has been added. If the sake is only rice, water and malted rice, it is called simply junmai.
Rice for Ginjo, 60% or less – ginjo is sake made with rice, malted rice, and brewer’s alcohol and brewed slowly under low fermentation temperatures. The rice is polished so it is 60 percent of its original size or smaller. In the case of junmai-ginjo, no brewer’s alcohol is added.
Rice for Daiginjo, 50% or less – daiginjo is sake brewed from rice polished so no more than 50 percent of the grain remains. Only the white opaque starchy cores are used for brewing, which produces an exquisite, refreshing taste. Very delicate and skilled techniques are required to insure that the grains of rice do not crack.
Rice for Special Daiginjo, around 40% – special daiginjo is the sake brewers send to exhibitions and competitions. It is produced with rice polished to about 40 percent of original size. “Ultra Deluxe Junmai-daiginjo” is polished beyond 38 percent and the grains are almost round.
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