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Power 5 Challenge – The Lesser The Better

Power 5 Challenge – The Lesser The Better

In a crazy sake world that is infatuated with milling, polishing, and over-milling sake brewing rice down to crazy percentages it’s nice to know there are some brewers who want to go the other way. Come on! You’re in the vicious circle trap too. Dassai milling down from 45 to 39 to 23%. Kubota making their brews milled down to 23%. Then there are the crazy brewers who go even lower to achieve the rice’s most amazing sweet spot! (We have one sake in-store that is milled to 7% and will set you back $1,600) Yes, it’s crazy and sort of a cockfight that promotes mutually assured sake destruction. But this is not a Power 5 for that craziness. No this is a celebration Power 5 that looks at brews that go the other way and are less milled for bigger and better things. 

This Power 5 challenges you to taste rice. Lots of rice. So much rice in your glass that it will make you full. Ha! We encourage you to try the following five brews to really understand what sake used to taste like, and certainly what sake used to feel like before the automated milling industry took sake to new heights in polished rice. These brews will remind you about rice. Not kidding. Each sake is a full-bodied reminder that full-bodied sake is awesome. We aren’t asking you to get dirty, but we are asking you to explore less clean and pristine sake. This array of brews will clue you in on what rice and water can really taste like and more importantly feel like. Enjoy! 


1) Onda 88 Junmai 

  • Ever heard of a rice varietal called Ippon-Jime? No? Then you might as well taste this brew that has only been polished to 88% No kidding! They only remove 12% of each grain, which is almost sushi rice or consumption rice rates. Why? So you can taste a hugely flavorful and super full-bodied brew that is balanced, complex, and slightly rich sweet. 

2) Tsukinoi Nanotsuki 80 Junmai 

  • Well, it says it right there on the label. This amazing brew has been milled to 80% and is founded on a philosophy of truly organic sake. Basically this is a sake drinker’s sake that is loaded with so many flavors and so much feeling. It’s really a ricey odyssey.

3) Wakatakeya A Zen Ai Junmai Koshu

  • This aged sake bills itself as a “Brown Rice” sake. Why? Because they only mill it 85%. Soft, rich, fat and goey this is an excellent aged sake that is a food pairing monster. It’s also a great way to taste a full-bodied ricey brew in an aged delivery of 5 years. 

4) Tsukinokatsura Iwai Junmai

  • Kyoto Prefecture is known for a very expensive and tasty sake brewing rice called Iwai. It’s usually used in Daiginjo class sakes, but some very (good) reason this brewery decided to only milled their Iwai to 80% Why? Because it tastes great and is soft, full-bodied, smooth, and loaded with ricey and umami explosions that work wonders in your glass. 

5) Sharataki Noujun Uonuma 80% Junmai

  • Last but certainly not least is this beefy and glorious full-bodied brew that is balanced oh so very well. A great reminder of what “Junmai” sake should taste and feel like. This brewery is usually known for clean and dry Ginjo class sake, but this expression shows a real passion for sake. 80% has never tasted so good!
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