"Ask Beau" November 2004
Steve Y. asked Beau "What is the driest sake available?"
Steve, thank you for the question. Like everything in life, it's all relative! The Nihonshudo or "Sake Meter Value" is an instrument that looks like a thermometer and measures the residual or ambient sugars in a particular sake. Dry and sweet sakes come about by the way the brewers brew their sake. If they want a sweeter sake they shorten the brewing process or play with the temperature of the fermentation process so that the glucose or sugars do not all ferment, thus leaving a sweeter brew. The SMV basically stipulates that sakes with a lower number represent a sweeter sake and the higher the dryer! Back in the day the basis used to be zero. Anything below zero -1, -2. -3 etc was sweeter and anything above +1,+2, +3 became more dry. But as tastes have changed, basis is now about +2, so anything below +2 is sweeter and again higher is dryer. Generally there is a movement towards sweeter sake.
Typically a dry sake would be around a +6 up to +10. I will speak for the American market when I answer your question specifically Steve. The current King of Dry Sake is a honjozo from a Niigata brewery, and it is called Yuki no Matsushima with a +20 SMV, which they prominently place on the front of their bottles. We carry this and other bone-dry sakes at True Sake.
Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)