The correct storage of sake will have a big impact on its freshness and flavor. This is equally true whether the bottle has been opened or not. Light, excessive temperature, and oxygen all play their part in reducing the quality of sake, similar to any fine alcohol. We’re about to let you know how to store sake so that it stays in the best condition. Let’s get started.
How to store sake
Unopened sake should be stored in a cool, dark location away from direct sunlight, such as a pantry or cellar. It will last up to 12 months stored properly. The temperature should not exceed 68°F (20°C) so if you live in a hot climate then refrigerating the sake is recommended.
Once opened, sake can be kept in the fridge for two weeks, although it should be drunken within a few days for best quality.
Unpasteurized sake (Namazake) should always be stored refrigerated, whether it is opened or unopened. At room temperature, the enzymes create a yeasty, out of balance beverage. An unopened bottle of namazake will last up to 6 months and once opened, drink within a week.
What happens to sake as it ages?
Unlike wine, sake doesn’t usually benefit from aging. It is best to consume within one year of brewing. As sake matures on the shelf, it develops a more well-rounded flavor; however, it also concentrates and becomes heavy and musty. Mild discoloration also occurs. Some enjoy the flavor, but most prefer to drink it before these characteristics become noticeable. Brewers recommend drinking sake within 6-12 months of manufacture date.
How vibration affects sake
Sake is a temperamental drink. Shaking most liquors won’t do any harm, but if you do this to sake it will negatively affect the balance of aroma and flavor. Never shake the bottle and gently pour it into a glass, allowing the sediments to mix.
Quick Tips for storing sake
- Light impacts the quality of sake, so wrap the bottle in a newspaper before storing to protect it.
- Transfer an opened bottle of sake to smaller bottles and use a vacuum pump to remove all air from the bottle.
- Unused sake is useful in the kitchen as a replacement for cooking sherry, rice wine vinegar, or mirin.
- Fluorescent light affects the flavor of sake more than LED lights do.
- Store sake away from strong-smelling food like onions as the aroma can influence the liquor’s taste.
- Keep sake in its original box as this acts as a good protective layer from light.
Did you know? Sake has no expiry (best by) date as it doesn’t go off or turn stale. Instead, the flavor moves away from the way the manufacturer intended it to taste.
Frequently asked questions
Can old sake make you sick?
Sake is a liquor that doesn’t allow bacteria growth, so it is unlikely that very old sake will make you sick. Age will degrade the quality of the sake and it may be unpleasant to drink, even if it won’t harm you. An opened bottle may form mold around the cap if there has been any spillage.
Where should I store sake in the fridge?
Store sake at the back of the fridge, where the least temperature fluctuation occurs. Sake should be positioned upright in the fridge to reduce the surface area exposed to air. It also keeps the liquor away from the cap which will taint the flavor if made from metal. For large bottles of sake, it may be difficult to fit them in the refrigerator vertically. If the bottle is unopened then you’re better to store it in a dark cupboard if the room isn’t too hot.
Storing sake isn't difficult, but light, heat, air, and even vibration can impact its quality. The biggest factors affecting sake are temperature and light, so by storing it in a dark place your prized bottle of liquor should last nicely. Once the bottle is opened, we recommend using a vacuum pump to remove any air before storing. If you enjoy the Japanese culture and cuisine, be sure to check out more articles about Japanese cuisine.