Unpleasant (“extraneous” ) taste

A pejorative general descriptor applied to rough- and unpleasant-tasting seishu. It is used simply as a noun, or in expressions such as zatsu-mi ga ooi (“(this sake) has (too) much zatsu-mi ”). (The character zatsu implies mixed up or unpolished; mi is the character for taste.)

It is thought that the bitter flavour elements of sake are primarily responsible for zatsu-mi. When those elements exist in suitable quantities, they add a sense of depth of flavour to the mix, but when they are too strong, they may disrupt the balance between the other tastes – sweetness, sourness (acidity), saltiness and umami – resulting in a sake with a noticeable zatsu-mi problem.

In contrast, sake without zatsu-mi is considered good sake, and its merits may be expressed with terms such as kirei, nameraka (なめらか, smooth), or marui (まるい, rounded).