Does Sake Get Better With Age

Does Sake Get Better With Age?

Sake, like wine, can change and develop over time, but it does not necessarily get better. Sake is best consumed within a year or two of its bottling date, and some types of sake are meant to be consumed as soon as possible. Aged sake can develop a deeper, more complex flavor and aroma, but the aging process can also cause sake to lose its freshness and become less desirable.

Rather, sake may evolve through age to become more complex, more intense, like a vintage wine. While vintage wine is definitely more common, aging sake does indeed have it is advantages, despite its unstable production process. It is important to keep in mind that excellent quality sakes and wines are available in aged as well as non-aged styles, and are both well worth exploring.

Now, when it comes to the question of whether aging sake has better flavors compared to fresh sake, the answer is it depends on your flavor preferences. It is really difficult to distinguish at all between this and a freshly made sake, except for that it is fairly evenly-flavored. I am going to compare tastes from several brands of sake and see if there is a difference between them.

Storage PlacesShelf Life
Fridge2 years
Freezer1 year
Pantry12 months
Shelf life of sake in different places.

If I am unfamiliar with the sake, I read the tasting notes and look for descriptors such as rich, rich-bodied, or bright. Take a tiny swig of the sake, and if you feel some sort of odor off, or anything that does not taste exactly like the sake itself, that means that your sake has gone bad. Even if there is some discoloration, weird smells, or weird tastes, there should be no harmful bacteria in your sake, making it safe.

It is not unusual for sake that has been made over an extended period of time to be consumed with no health issues prior to opening, but once opened, the flavor changes. As long as the bottle is sealed, the alcohol content prevents the growth of any harmful bacteria, so older sakes are not hazardous to drink. While Unopened Sake, in controlled conditions, may last many years, it does not withstand the effects of aging quite as well as other alcoholic beverages.

If you’re interested in Can You Eat Salmon Skin With Scales, take a look at my other article

Unopened sake is best consumed within 12 months of bottle date, or 2 years when kept cool/refrigerated. While some opened sake can be stored this way safely for years, the bottle is best finished in the next few weeks. It is best to drink sake that has not been opened within 12 months from its bottling date, or within 2 years after opening.

Watch this video to know how sake gets better with age

That is, an average aged/mellowing period is about 6 months, and that is when they bottle it and/or release the sake to the public. By the average aging/mellowing period, every brewery is guesstimating the sake does not really change during about 6 months.

Sometimes the brewery stores the sake for some time prior to bottling, so the date is not a precise indicator of actual age of sake, but is about as close as it gets in terms of age determination. There are certain grades of sake that are aged for a specific amount of time prior to their release, but this does not mean all grades of sake are meant to be aged.

For one thing, aged sake producers sell their best results at the height of their ripeness, which takes much of the guesswork out of sake buyers minds, when compared with wine from a vintage. Aging sake is harder to obtain, fairly expensive, and generally an entirely different animal from normal sake–and definitely not better, in any unambiguous way. Generally speaking, sake is unaged (beyond the mentioned six-month time frame) and meant to be consumed shortly after purchasing.

Vintage sake is also aged in a variety of vessel types and with different room temperatures, some are even kept refrigerated during the entire aging process. As we all know, sake is a perishable product, which is pasteurized, and does not utilize long-lasting aging agents like the sulfite found in wines. Unlike wines and spirits, Japanese sake, or nihonshu(**), is not aged nearly as much as other alcoholic beverages. The amount of sake laid out every year for significant time-aging (more than three years) is approximately one-one-one-one-percent; nothing more.

If you’re interested in How Long Can You Keep Dry Aged Steak In The Fridge, take a look at my other article

Since there are no strict rules regarding the length and temperature of the aging, different aged sakes will have varying flavor profiles. For example, if sake is made using just rice, then it will be better aged compared to when sake is made using other ingredients like barley, wheat, or potatoes. Feel free to give it a shot, but do keep in mind that Sake begins to noticeably change after approximately one year (depending on storage conditions). Note there is the possibility it may turn sour in case it is sake that is Nama (fresh), and you will know this if you see the word Sheng anywhere on the label.

Very often, they will tell you right on the label that the sake is either 3-year-old koshu or 5-year-old koshu, and occasionally use the term jukusei (aged, or matured) instead. Some of the good news is not that it stays eternally fresh, if you are wondering, but rather because, regardless of how old that bottle of sake is, it never will kill you or give you sickness. If, in spite of the some good news, you are still reluctant to drink if you do not know exactly if that bottle has expired, then I am going to share a little hack. Here, we are going to show you how to find out, and, more importantly, how to maximize your sake bottles shelf life by properly storing them.

You should not have to worry that sake stays fresh forever, if you are wondering; it never will kill you or make you ill, no matter how old your bottle is. It certainly will not spoil to make you ill, or go to vinegar or be completely unpalatable. Whatever flavor of sake is there now, whether it is aged nicely or has gone utterly bad, is not the taste of the sake the sakemaker is advertising. It is possible to freeze the remaining glasses to be used for cooking later, and you can certainly try that with your sake left over, but we would stress that the sake frozen should be used only for cooking.

How long is a bottle of sake good for?

Sake oxidizes more slowly than wine after the bottle has opened. One must  Drink sake within one week of opening as the first three days will be the most enjoyable. Unopened sake can be consumable within 12 months of the best-before, or within two years if kept in a refrigerator.

Does sake need to be refrigerated after opening?

Sake that isn’t refrigerated can deteriorate, and taste terrible. If the flavor or aroma changes even little, the sake may be spoiled. Consume your sake as fast as you can. Sake should be drunk within two to three weeks of opening. Bottles that have been opened must always be kept chilled.

Can old sake make you sick?

If the sake isn’t adequately covered in the bottle, it might make you sick. It’s quite improbable that you will become sick if the bottle is correctly sealed and tastes and smells great. There shouldn’t have been any hazardous germs in the sake, if sealed properly.

Scroll to Top
Skip to content