The Vital Role of Water in Sake Production

Sake, a traditional Japanese rice wine,

is a beverage celebrated for its complex flavors and cultural significance. While rice, yeast, and koji mold are the primary ingredients in sake production, one often-overlooked component plays a crucial role: water. In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of water in the sake-making process, from washing the rice to influencing the final flavor.

1. Water's Ubiquitous Presence:

Water accounts for approximately 80% of the total volume in sake production. It's used at various stages throughout the process, making it an indispensable resource for creating high-quality sake.

2. Rice Washing:

One of the initial steps in sake production involves washing the rice. This process not only removes impurities but also influences the rice's taste. The water used during washing can affect the final quality of the fermentation mash (moromi).

3. Polishing and Soaking:

Before rice is steamed, it undergoes polishing, where a layer of the outer rice grain is removed. The polished rice is then soaked to attain the desired moisture content. Water quality at this stage is critical as it can impact the rice's texture and flavor.

4. Cleaning Equipment:

Sake-making equipment must be kept meticulously clean to prevent contamination and ensure a successful fermentation process. Water is vital for sanitizing equipment, as any impurities could harm the final product.

5. Temperature Control:

Water plays a role in controlling the tank temperature during fermentation. The right temperature is essential for the growth of yeast and koji mold. Proper temperature management is crucial for achieving the desired sake characteristics.

6. Boiler Water:

In the sake brewery, water is used in boilers to generate steam for the steaming and sterilization processes. The quality of this water can affect the overall production and flavor of the sake.

7. Water-to-Rice Ratio:

An interesting fact is that the quantity of water used in sake production can be substantial—sometimes as much as 30 to 50 times the weight of the polished white rice. This illustrates the scale of water's involvement in the process.


Water is undeniably the unsung hero of sake production. From washing and polishing the rice to cleaning equipment, controlling temperatures, and providing boiler water, it's an integral part of creating the distinctive flavors and qualities that sake enthusiasts cherish. The quality and properties of the water used in sake-making are just as important as the ingredients themselves. Next time you savor a glass of sake, you'll have a deeper appreciation for the role of water in this time-honored craft.
Back to blog

Leave a comment