As the mercury continues to drop here in Tokyo, the temptations of atsukan (Hot Sake) can be difficult to resist. But, resist you must, because atsukan isn’t the only way to go in winter.
Here at KURAND SAKE MARKET, our fridges are already filling up with shiboritate. shiboritate literally translates to freshly pressed (freshly filtered) and is new-sake that is exclusive to the winter.
What is Shiboritate
In the latter half of the sake making process, there is a process where the finished moromi (raw unrefined sake) is divided into sake and lees. This pressing (filtration) process goes by the terms shibori, agefune, jyousou or funegake.
Sake normally also goes through a process of pasteurization called hiire where it is placed in water heated to about 50-60 degrees to kill all remaining bacteria, enzymes and yeast before being shipped. This has to happen because sulfites are not used to stabilize sake; they don’t work because the acidity is too low. Shiboritate however, is shipped right after it has been pressed, bypassing the hiire. In other words, it’s raw and fresh.
Note: The opposite of shiboritate at the other end of sake’s life cycle is hiyaoroshi (fall sake), which does undergo the hiire and a little storage over the summer.
Some shiboritate are a little fizzy as not all the CO2 has dissipated yet and some has dissolved into the sake.
The first batch of shiboritate sake to be pressed is called hatsushibori (LIT: The first to be pressed).
The broader term for ‘new’ sake produced during the current brewing year is shinshu (from July of one year to June of the next).
To elaborate further, shinshu is sake produced from shinmai (new rice), harvested in October of that brewing year. After the summer (July 1st), Shinshu changes its name and becomes koshu (old sake).
It’s all a little complicated, but with no rules on how to label new-sake, each brewery defines it differently.
Generally, any sake pressed during that brewing year is called shinshu, but shiboritate tends to only be available around December and January. Make sure you don’t miss out on this season’s shiboritate and enjoy its youthful, vibrant, refreshing flavour!