“True-brew” sake: honjōzō

One of the group of Tokutei Meisho-shu (Special Designation Sakes), it is defined as sake made from rice polished to 70% or less of its original size, kome-koji, water and brewer’s alcohol.

Honjozo brewing restricts the amount of brewer’s alcohol which can be used to up to 10% of the weight of the white rice used. This is calculated in terms of 95% alcohol, so, if the alcohol is actually used at a concentration of 30%, the permitted level addition can be calculated as follows.


1000kg x 0.10÷0.8157 (the specific gravity of alcohol at 95%)x 0.95÷0.3 = 388 litres.


As the quantity of alcohol which may be added for honjozo is less than for “regular” futsu-shu (that is, non-Special-Designation sake)、it is closer in flavour to junmai, tending to smooth, kara-kuchi styles. Depending on preference and on the style of the particular sake, it can be drunk cold, at room temperature or heated.

Honjozo with particularly good flavour or colour, or which has been made using high-quality rice or by special methods may be labeled as tokubetsu honjozo (“special” honjozo) if the distinguishing elements are clearly listed.