Wood smell

This expression refers to the smell of Japanese cedar wood used in the brewing process or as a material for storage containers, naturally transferred to the sake. Nowadays, wood is almost never used in either brewing or storage, so orthodox products usually have no wood smell. However, some consumers enjoy taru-zake, which has deliberately been stored in wood to give it the characteristic aroma (though often transferred to glass bottles before sale).

As a material to impart ki-ga, Japanese cedar wood from the Yoshino area of Nara Prefecture has long been prized for its fine aromatics and evenness of grain, and so has long been held to be the finest material for sake casks. The primary aromatic components of ki-ga are sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene alcohols, essential oils secreted by the trees.

The tasting term kiga yo-shu (wood-like smell) is sometimes abbreviated to ki-ga, but the term indicates aldehyde smell and should not be confused with true, wood-derived ki-ga.