The history of sake is very long, dating back to the 3rd century B.C. when a method of rice planting was introduced to Japan. It is believed that sake making in Japan started around the same time.

In 1944, during World War II, Japanese sake manufacturers coping with a shortage of rice started adding alcohol in the process of sake brewing in order to increase their production volume. After 2000 years of using 100% pure rice, the production of Japanese sake was divided into 2 different types: Honjozo (with additives) and Junmai (without additives). Although this polarization has continued to this day, shimizu-no-mai comprises only the most traditional type of sake.

Sake is traditionally made with no added alcohol, a style that is called “Junmai.” In the last century, sake producers developed a new style of sake called “Honjozo” which involves the addition of alcohol during the brewing process. Sake experts would agree that the “purest” form of sake is the Junmai style, as it is made with only the key ingredients. Pure Dawn, Pure Dusk, and Pure Night are made in this pure, traditional style.

The next ranking is “Junmai Ginjo,” which involves a more labor-intensive process to produce. The rice is polished further than that of “Junmai,” and must be milled to at least 60% of its original size. This class of sake is more refined than the simple “Junmai” and is known for fruity characteristics.

The highest ranked sake is the super-premium “Junmai Daiginjo.” This sake is brewed with highly polished rice, which must be no more than 50% of its original size. These fragrant sakes are generally light, complex, and considered the pinnacle of the brewmaster’s art.