Known as ‘okan’ or ‘kanzake’ in Japanese, hot sake has suffered from a bad rap over the years. Contrary to popular belief, there's no correlation between hot sake and poor quality and that perception is largely misguided.
In Japan however, heating sake is a practice that has been around as long as the beverage itself, dating back to the Jomon period. And because it’s Japan, a culture known for their attention to detail and poetic angles on things, heating sake is not a matter of mere difference between cold, warm or hot – there are 11 distinct temperatures including ‘sunbathed’ and ‘autumn breeze’.
When sake is heated, the rising temperature affects the dryness, fragrance and balance of flavours. The drink will generally become drier, plus the increase in amino and lactic acids makes it more umami-rich and fragrant while the rice and koji flavours get more prominent. There are general guidelines around sake varieties and temperatures, but often it just comes down to personal preference. Here are some of our picks to enjoy warm. Find out more about warming sake over at our Sake Basics page.