Sake’s rise to mainstream popularity can be attributed to many things, such as the surge of sake bars popping up around the country and the recent, yet growing, interest in sake-infused cocktails. There’s one place, in particular, that shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to discovering new, exciting sakes, and that’s your local wine shop.
In just a few short years, we’ve watched the sake offerings in wine shops expand from slim pickings to dedicated sections that explore a range of styles, bottle sizes, and regions. These specialty wine shops have not only boosted their range, but also their knowledge.
But with more accessibility to a beverage that’s as diverse as it is widely unknown, finding a great bottle of sake can be daunting to newcomers. That’s why we asked seven bottle shop owners across the country to tell us their favorite sake of the moment. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to the category, here are the best sakes available right now.
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The Best Sakes, According to Bottle Shop Pros
- Kurosawa, Junmai Kimoto Sake
- Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai
- Kato Sake Works
- Chikurin ‘Karoyaka’ Junmai Ginjo
- Tozai Living Jewel Junmai
- Miyakobijin Shuzo, Yoigokocki Yuzu Saké
“There are so many amazing sakes out there, but we are loving Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto Sake at the moment — a terrifically dynamic food sake that is excellent chilled or warm! It’s silky with a fruity-yet-dry medium body and a crisp, green apple finish. It also easily pairs with a range of cuisines.” — Sunshine Foss, owner, Happy Cork Brooklyn, Brooklyn
“My favorite sake is the Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai from Hyogo, one of the top sake-producing regions of Japan. The quality of the sake is evident as soon as you smell the complex aromas of shiitake mushrooms, stone fruit, and flowers. It has a creamy texture and drinks like a savory, full-bodied Chardonnay. It’s excellent with a variety of foods, especially meats. Shirakabegura Brewery is the producer of this fine sake, and they have the longest streak of gold medals in the Annual Japan Sake Awards competition.” — Michael Brooks, owner, Bed-Vyne Wine & Spirits, Brooklyn
“We love Kato Sake Works. The small-batch sake brewery is located in Bushwick and is run by a couple from Japan. Each of their bottlings offers playful notes, and they aren’t afraid to experiment while maintaining exceptional quality and tradition.” — Carlos Larkin, owner, Heart’s Bushwick, Brooklyn
“We love love love Miyakobijin Shuzo Yoigokochi Yuzu Sake. It’s literally summertime in a bottle — insanely refreshing and perfect in a summer cocktail, with soda water, or on its own. It has a mouth-pucker tartness with a hint of sweetness that will have you coming back for more. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit, the flavor that most people recognize from ponzu sauce. Adding this intensely flavored and aromatic fruit to unfiltered rice wine, it’s destined to be alluring. As someone who has consumed quite a bit of sake in her career, this one is like none other.” — Sarah Pierre, owner, 3 Parks Wine Shop, Atlanta
“I love Miyakobijin Shuzō Yoigokocki Yuzu Sake, which is partly made of yuzu fruit. It has great texture and depth but is super refreshing with a splash of sparkling water. Minimal-intervention sake has grown lots of popularity recently, and it’s the way to go for an artisanal low-alcohol beverage. For this sake, I’d suggest sipping it cold for a refreshing way to ward off summer’s heat” — Ty Cole, co-owner, Off the Rox, Baltimore
“Marumoto Brewery’s Chikurin ‘Karoyaka’ Junmai Ginjo sake. Marumoto is one of the very few brewers growing estate rice, which they turn into some of the most crystalline, wine-like sake out there.” — Christopher Leon, owner, Leon & Son Wine and Spirits, Brooklyn
“My pick for the best sake would be the Tozai Living Jewel Junmai. It’s light and refreshing enough to drink on its own, but balanced and complex enough to go with a variety of foods such as sushi and spicy grilled meats. It’s also a terrific value.” — Ben Bohen, owner, Waterfront Wines & Spirits, Brooklyn