September 2009

Ask Beau - "Why don't people drink the big bottles more?"

Posted by Beau Timken in 2009, Ask Beau, Newsletter, September
David R from Michigan - you are a man after my own heart! (No not like that). David asked me a question about value in sake, and I told him that in all honesty bigger is better, especially in regards to imported sake from Japan.

"When I went to Japan everybody drank out of the large bottles, why don't people drink the big bottles more here in the US?"

Beau Timken There are a couple of answers here! Firstly, when in Japan you probably went to izakayas to drink your sake - and yes they all pour using the 1.8L bottles called ishobin. Why? Cheaper! They make more money pouring out of larger bottles! Plain and simple. (Some will argue that sake tastes better out of a larger bottle ala a magnum - I'm not convinced) They also turnover their product fast enough that "freshness" is not an issue.

When in a fridge at a restaurant - let's talk about a display fridge - one big bottle takes up less space than two smaller 720ml bottles of the same brew. Huh? Yup - an owner of an izakaya in Kyoto once showed me the "dynamics" of display and the bigger bottles as he pointed out fit better in the fridge then several of the same smaller bottles - two little bottles side by side took up more space. Plus as he pointed out - there is something very majestic about the larger bottles - they look the part!

Now in a retail sense - in Japan the smaller bottles are used more for gifting! For example the higher end Daiginjos only come in small bottles - when you go to a sake/alcohol shop the small bottles go more as gifts and the local drinkers pick up the bigger bottles. Why? Again - value! You get more bang for your yen in a large 1.8L bottle. And the same holds true here in the US!

If you want value or are looking to spend less for more then think big! For example we sell the very tasty Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku in both 720ml and 1.8L. This round, smooth and dry brew does well the day after the day after the day etc after being opened! Thus it is a great candidate for a value play as the 720ml (24oz) bottle runs $34 and the 1.8L (60oz) bottles goes for $54. Right there is some serious sake value!

Go big when you go home!

Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All other correspondence should use info @

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