JUNMAI DAIGINJYO iki is the highest grade of Premium Japanese Sake, made with Shuzo Koutekimai 'Ginpu' which is grown in the rice fields of Hokkaido Muumin Village. The rice used in making iki is polished down to 45% of the grain remaining, slowly brewed at low temperatures so that all of the delicate and fruity aromas are extracted from the rice without any of the unwanted flavors caused by rice proteins.

※Shuzo koutekimai is a larger and stronger rice used for brewing sake that contains less protein than ordinary eating rice.
The strength of the rice is necessary to survive the polishing process which removes the bran and protein from the starch.


Classification: Jyunmai Dai Ginjyo
Rice: Ginpuu
Polished Rice Ratio 45%
Alcohol Content :15~16%
Sake Meter Value:+3
Profile: Semi-Dry
Acidity Level: 1.3
Amino Acids: 1.1
Best served: 40°F-50°F
Sizes: 375ml / 720ml(720ml bottle is not on regular production)
Feature: iki is made from the absolute best rice for sake brewing which is "Ginpuu" produced in the northernmost island of Japan. It has a fruity fragrance and a clear and well-balanced taste.

The Meaning of iki

iki (粋) is a stylish way of life. A way of life showing generosity and broad mindedness. A lifestyle full of coolness, graciousness, leniency and spirituality.

If you look closely at the ideograph for iki (粋) and analyze the separate parts of which it is composed, you can see the true meaning of the word. The left side radical is 米 meaning rice, the staple food of the Japanese people. On the right side are two radicals 九 and 十 which means 90. During the Edo Period when this word was born, rice was an extremely valuable commodity. Even if a person couldn't have 100% of the rice that they wanted, they could still be satisfied with 90% of that amount. In other words, instead of being greedy and wanting more for oneself, a spirit of sharing and having compassion for others was the sign of a person with iki.

The mind of iki also has a deep connection with Bushido, the way of the warrior. At the very bottom of the heart of a first class samurai, was the belief that "The best victory is a victory without bloodshed." A samurai who pulled out his sword too quickly, was thought to be a coward who was just bluffing. A person with a calm disposition knows that the times when a sword must actually be used, are extremely rare. Also, on those occasions when the sword was withdrawn, the samurai would use the dull side of the blade to strike his opponent instead of the sharp side of the blade which would have delivered a fatal blow. This warning strike would cause the opponent to lose his will to fight and break the evil. This method was called mineuchi which means to strike with the back of the sword. This ideal of "Hate the sin not the sinner." shows iki and is one of the aesthetic feelings which are at the very core of the heart of Japanese people. Nowadays also, the importance placed on wa (harmony) is deeply rooted in the minds of the Japanese people.

iki is influenced by Chef Christopher Lee

Chef Christopher Lee traveled to Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, Japan, to oversee the process and immerse himself in the cultural and culinary aspects of sake brewing. He tasted and consulted on the exact blend of iki sake, and has tailored it to pair exceptionally well with American Cuisine.
Chef Lee says, "As more and more Americans seek to educate themselves about sake, we are bringing a one-of-a-kind product to them with iki."

Chef Lee is a nationally recognized talent, having received numerous accolades for his innovative and artistic cuisine and his clean and focused style. Chef Lee was named ''Rising Star Chef of the Year '' by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, selected among the nation's ''Best New Chefs'' by Food and Wine magazine in 2006, and participating in the inaugural season of Top Masters in2009.
Chef Lee currently owns Huntington Social, a speakeasy themed gastro pub and cocktail lounge in his hometown of Huntington, New York. Prior to Huntington Social Chef Lee was the Executive Chef at Manhattan restaurants Aureole in Times Square and Gilt at the Palace Hotel, earning Michelin stars for his work in each of those kitchens.

About the Raw Materials used in making iki

The process of making "GinJou", "JunMaiGinjou", "DaiGinJou" and "JunMaiDaiGinJou" are basically the same.
However, the amount of the rice grain remaining after polishing is different. In the case of iki, which is of the JunMaiDaiGinJou variety, only about 45% of the rice grain remains. In other words, for every 100 kilograms of rice used, only 45 kilograms of that rice remains when the process of brewing iki is started.
Many people wonder why so much of the rice is polished away when making Sake. The reason is because not only does the rice grain contain starch, it also contains protein.
When making Sake, the starch is needed in the process, but the protein becomes an obstacle to developing the original taste of Japanese Sake.
When the Koji Mold is introduced into the polished rice, and yeast is added to begin the fermentation process, an interesting thing happens.
Rice that has been polished down to about 45% of its original volume, does not have enough protein left in it to ferment the mash completely.
Because of this, the fermentation produces its own nutrients to replace the yeast protein. The result is a gorgeous fruity aroma, without any of the unwanted flavors that would result, if more of the rice protein were present in the mixture.

List of the varieties of Japanese Sake

  Specific Name Type
Name JunMaiDaiGinJou JunMaiGinJou JunMai DaiGinJou GinJou HonJouZou
Raw Materials rice and malted rice rice and malted rice rice and malted rice rice, malted rice and brewer's alcohol rice, malted rice and brewer's alcohol rice, malted rice and brewer's alcohol
Rice grain remaining after polishing less than 50% less than 60% less than 70% less than 50% less than 60% less than 70%
Grade of rice used only grades 1, 2 or 3 only grades 1, 2 or 3 only grades 1, 2 or 3 only grades 1, 2 and 3 only grades 1, 2 or 3 only grades 1, 2 or 3
Percentage of Brewer's alcohol added none none none less than 10% per volume of rice less than 10% per volume of rice less than 10% per volume of rice

The Process of making "JUNMAI DAIGINJYO iki"

1. Polished rice

From the brown rice we remove the bran and the cereal germ. The result is the endosperm known as polished rice. This polished rice is further polished to remove a certain percentage of the endosperm. For Ginjou, Daiginjou and other high quality sake, more than 50% of the endosperm is polished away, with painstaking labor.

For Regular Sake, the amount of endosperm to be polished away is not specified but is usually about 25% to 27%, thus leaving between 75% to 73% of the endosperm for sake brewing.

2. Rinsing and soaking the rice

The freshly polished rice has lost much of its moisture due to the friction of the polishing process and will crack easily. Therefore, the rice is allowed to "rest" for about a month, in order to regain its moisture from the air, and then it is washed to remove the rice powder that was produced during polishing.

After that, the rice is soaked in water so that it can absorb the necessary amount of hydration. The amount of hydration has a big influence on the quality of the sake so this immersion process is closely managed by manual labor.

3. After the rice has been soaked, the steaming process begins

After the steaming process is finished, the rice is unraveled completely by hand until it is at about the same temperature has the human skin.

This unraveled steamed rice is divided into three categories.

Koji Rice (rice and mold mixture) for making yeast, Moto Rice for making the alcohol starter (shubo) and Kake Rice for making the main fermenting mash (moromi).

4. Koji (rice and mold mixture)

The microorganism Asperigillus oryzae is sprinkled onto the steamed rice and allowed to ferment for 5 to 7 days. This produces the Koji.

The koji changes the rice starch into glucose and is an extremely important step in the process, because this step, more than anything, will determine the goodness or the badness of the final brew.

5. Alcohol Starter

The alcohol starter is called "moto".

The moto changes the glucose produced by the koji into alcohol, then the steamed rice, water, yeast and lactic acid are added to the mixture.

6. Moromi (the main mash)

The process for making the main mash is as follows. While the alcohol starter begins to turn the main mash into alcohol, at the same time the yeast is turning the starch into glucose. This special process of multiple parallel fermentation is unique to the production of Japanese Sake.

Also, the pre-incubated mixture of steamed rice, fermented rice and water are added to the main mash in a series of three steps. The first time is called "the dance" and starts at the beginning of the day. The second time and third time are added when this staggered approach allows enough time for the yeast to keep up with the increasing volume.

After the third addition of ingredients is finished, the main mash is allowed to ferment for between 20 and 30 days.

With this process, GinJou and DaiGinJou Sakes are produced with more finely polished rice and at lower temperatures over a longer period of time, than other Japanese Sakes. This is why they have more flavor and aroma than regular types of Japanese Sake.

7. Tanking and Filtering

The tanking process involves squeezing the raw sake out of the main mash. When the Master Brewer's judgment determines that the main mash is ready to process further, the solids and liquids are separated so that only the raw sake remains. In the case of regular sake, undiluted sake, and pure rice sake without added alcohol, a machine does the pressing of the mash, but in the case of GinJou and DaiGinJou the mash is squeezed out carefully by hand. The hand squeezing methods include, Tank Squeezed, Yabuta Squeezed and Bag Squeezed among others.

The squeezed out sake is called Raw Unfiltered Sake and still contains small amounts of white dregs. In order to remove these dregs and other random flavors from the raw sake, it is put in a cool dark place and allowed to "rest" so that the remainder of the dregs can sink to the bottom of the tank and be filtered out later. The result of the filtering process is Clear Raw Sake.

8. Dilution with Water

Diluting water is added to the clear raw sake in the aging tank, just before bottling and shipping. This process is known as WariMizu. It is also called KaSuiChouSei (hydrolysis adjustment) or just plain KaSui (added water). The purpose of this process is to lower the alcohol content of the finished sake. Most sake has an alcohol content of about 20 percent directly after the process of multiple parallel fermentation is completed. However, the alcohol percentage must be lowered at shipping time in order to be in compliance with the provisions of the Liquor Tax Law.