Saké One

March 10, 2010

Last Saturday, my husband and I went to Saké One, the only American owned saké production facility in the United States located in Forest Grove, Oregon. We were told that there are three more Japanese owned saké facilities in California.

I’ve only had saké two other times in my life. I told Tony, our pourer, that I am a huge James Bond fan, and in the movie You Only Live Twice, Bond (played by Sean Connery) goes to Japan, where he has saké and declares it perfect at 98.6⁰ F, or body temperature.  Tony said that is indeed how they serve saké in Japan, but here in the United States, most of the time it is served slightly chilled, between 40⁰ to 50⁰ F. He said that warmed saké in the US is usually a sign of an inferior saké, as heating it masks flavors, much like chilling a beer masks flavors.

Saké is made from rice, but it takes a mold called Koji to convert the rice sugars into something edible by yeast. From what Tony said, the rice is sometimes polished before processing, it is boiled in water to make a brew like beer, but one consumes it like wine. It is drinkable in about six months, but it does not hold in a cellar more than two years.

I found that I was very neutral to saké, neither liking it nor disliking it. The entire flavor for saké is in the middle of the taste, as it then fades away. There is really no aftertaste. Since saké is new to me, I had a hard time keeping track of all the subtitle differences between the different styles of saké. Some of that was because that was the first time I was hearing words like Futsu, Genshu, Honjozo, and more.

Tony did point out to us that most saké has a dryness rating ranging from +8 (driest) to -8 (sweetest). Of course, all taste is subjective, but this does help when picking out a saké. They did have a couple of sakés that were back sweetened with various juices, including pear, raspberry, plum, and coconut. These were all very tasty, and I could see using the coconut infused saké for a shrimp marinade or drinking it with Caribbean or spicy foods.

Edit: When we were there, we did the food and saké sampler. They paired different sakés with non-sushi food, such as almonds, brie, prosciutto, and even a chocolate dipped fortune cookie. It helped us taste what other foods beyond sushi saké could be paired with. It was very nice.

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One Response to “Saké One”


  1. […] kind of excited to see Saké One there. The saké maker was pouring, so I mentioned I liked their flavored sakés, and he suggested I have their premixed sakitini. It was cranberry, mint, and lemonade, and it was […]


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