May 2012

Sake Retail - Top Ten Sake Bottles and Sake Labels

Posted by Beau Timken in 2012, May, Newsletter
Do pretty bottles sell sake? You bet! We see it daily. "Oh, I love the bottle... Is the sake good?" To which we always reply, "We wouldn't sell a sake that looks good but doesn't drink that way." "Oh the packaging is gorgeous I have to get it." "That bottle is so cute" "That looks like a perfect gift!" And yes, a very large portion of gift giving purchasers only look at the packaging when making the call.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this because the bottles and labels are cool. (Can't put it any other way.) They simply look good and for good reason. Most brewers go to great lengths to select bottles and labels to compliment their efforts within the bottle. They hire artists, designers and packaging pros to create styles and effects that are unique to their kura (brewery). Branding and packaging-packaging and branding plays a big role in an industry that has a lot of sake selections. The more different or intriguing the bottle and labels the better the sales or so it seems. We see it! As retailers we get it! It does work.

In this regard, we have produced our Top Ten Sake Bottles and Top Ten Sake Labels list based on buying patterns. In no particular order:

True Sake Top Ten Sake Bottles:
  • Kikusui Junmai Ginjo - pounded glass light blue bottle
  • Wakatake Junmai Daiginjo - "the square bottle"
  • Kirinzan Junmai and Daiginjo - two of the best in the biz - one round one hexagonal
  • Kotsuzumi Junmai Daiginjo - cobalt bottle sourced in Italy
  • Bunraku Junmai, Kinpaku, and Junmai Ginjo - 300ml bottles of note
  • Jozen Junmai, Junmai Ginjo(s), Junmai Daiginjo - Aqua, White, Pink, Blue beveled-shaped super bottles
  • Yukinobosha Junmai Ginjo - 300ml frosted square bottle
  • Hakutsuru Nigori - frosted pink bottle brings people running
  • Miyosakae Junmai Daiginjo - 750ml odd shaped twisted bottle
  • Narutotai Nama Ginjo - not a bottle but rather a stellar can that is a fan fave
Honorable mention goes to a sake lost in Chapter 11 bankruptcy called Hatsuhana or "First Flower Nap" which featured a twisted light blue pounded glass bottle that almost looked like a grappa bottle.

True Sake Top Ten Sake Labels:
  • Kariho Namahage Junmai - the devil's mask always catches the eye
  • Daruma Junmai - the funny Daruma drawing makes people look
  • Tenzan Junmai - the bottle wrapped in a leaf with red label is a winner
  • Genbei Honjozo - four freaky eyes call to people
  • Kamoizumi Junmai Ginjo - the sake is called "Three Dots" for good reason
  • Urakasumi Zen Junmai Ginjo - the little "bean man" daruma on label summons
  • Kudoki Jozu Junmai Ginjo - the striking use of colors and "the lady's face" work
  • Mizunoshirabe Ginjo - not a lot of purple in the sake industry except on this label
  • Poochi Poochi Sparkling Sake - the little animated dog calls to many
  • Tanuki Junmai - the smiling naughty creature is fun to look at

Team True Sake's Personal Favorites:

True Sake True Sake True Sake True Sake

  • Kikuhime Daiginjo - just a strikingly stunning label that is bold and sort of different with layered graphics that are as complex as the sake within.
  • Daruma Junmai - I liked his beard and bushy eyebrows. He looks like he can drink a LOT of sake and reminds me of a friend.
  • Born Muroka Nama Daiginjo - label has all of the information about the sake and is easy to tell customers what is inside the bottle because it is all spelled out on the label. Informative.
  • Miyasaka Junmai & Yamahai Nama, Takenotsuyu Junmai Ginjo and Kirinzan Junmai Daiginjo - I like "hiragana" labels.

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