Pure-rice sake (sake made from only rice and water)

A kind of sake made using only rice, kome-koji and water: one of the broad categories of Tokutei Meisho-shu (Special Designation Sakes), the others being ginjo-shu and honjozo-shu.

As junmai-shu is made without using brewer’s alcohol, it tends to have more rice-based umami flavour than alcohol-added aru-ten varieties. Many examples are richly, roundly flavoured with high levels of acidity.

In contrast to the other Special Designation categories, there is currently no restriction on the sei-mai buai of the white rice which can be used. Since rice with a wide range of polishing ratios can be used, there are many distinctive junmai sakes. This gives great freedom to choose the drinking temperature (cold, room temperature or hot) according to the style of the individual sake.

Sake brewed in the ginjo style but without using brewer’s alcohol is called junmai ginjo-shu or junmai daiginjo-shu. Junmai-shu with particularly good flavour or colour, or which has been made using high-quality rice or by special methods may be labeled as tokubetsu junmai-shu (“special” junmai-shu) if the distinguishing elements are clearly listed.

In Europe and America, tax regulations sometimes discriminate between junmai and non-junmai styles of sake; in many cases, the rate of taxation is lower for junmai-shu. For this reason, some breweries have junmai sake as their main products aimed at European and American markets.