Classifications of Japanese sake are divided into two categories: Tokutei Meishoshu (classified sake) and Futsuushu (non-classified Sake).

 

Tokutei Meishoshu (Classified Sake)

Tokutei Meishoshu is a provision under the Liquor Business Trade Union Laws created in 1992.
In order to qualify as Tokutei Meishoshu:
  • The amount of rice koji (rice with koji mold added) in sake must be more than 15% of the total weight of rice used.
  • The additional alcohol used should be less than 10% of the total weight of rice used.
  • The rice has to be certified and graded.
There are eight types of Tokutei Meishoshu, which are classified depending on the seimaibuai (the amount of rice left after polishing) and the combination of raw ingredients. A bottle of Tokutei Meishoshu must have one of eight words labelled on the bottle.
The 8 types of Tokutei Meishoshu all belong to one of two groups:

A) Junmaishu: This is the broad term for sake without added alcohol. There are four sub-classifications in this group based upon seimaibuai.

  1. Junmaishu: No regulation for seimaibuai.
  2. Tokubetsu Junmaishu: Seimaibuai must be 60% or less (with a special production process or a focus on taste). 
  3. Junmai Ginjoshu: Seimaibuai must be 60% or less (with a focus on fragrance).
  4. Junmai Daiginjoshu: Seimaibuai must be 50% or less. More polishing creates a higher quality sake.

B) Honjozoshu: A specified amount of distilled alcohol is added and the seimaibuai must be 70% or less.

  1. Honjozoshu: Seimaibuai must be 70% or less.
  2. Tokubetsu honjozoshu: Seimaibuai must be 60% or less (with a special production process or a focus on taste). 
  3. Ginjoshu: Seimaibuai must be 60% or less (with a focus on fragrance).
  4. Daiginjoshu: Seimaibuai must be 50% or less.

 

Futsushu (Non-classified Sake)

Futsushu means “ordinary” sake and refers to sake which does not come under Tokutei Meishoshu. This type of sake makes up more than 70% of all sake on the market. A bottle of Futsushu has no classification on its label.