Hot or Cold Sake?

We ask Timothy Sullivan to answer the age-old question of which sakes are better hot versus cold

Hot or Cold Sake?

Keywords: sakeTimothy SullivanJapan


For anyone venturing to drink sake, it's the age-old question: should you have it hot or cold? Timothy Sullivan of Urban Sake says it is his most asked query, but he truly doesn't have a preference. "The answer is, hot, room temperature, cold, everything is OK," he says. "The versatility of sake when it comes to temperature is actually one of the strong points of this beverage. The key is finding the right style of sake for the right temperature."

Sullivan says that the origins of heating sake began hundreds of years ago when the quality of most sakes was much lower. In today's sake market, there is no inherent need to warm most good sakes, but it can be preferential to those who enjoy it. Sullivan's first rule of thumb is, "Quality in, quality out. You have to start with a good sake." No amount of warming will make a bad sake better. But when you are warming a good sake, it is better to start with bold, dry, ricier sakes such as many Junmais. The reason for this is because "when you warm a sake you supress the aroma." So the sakes that shouldn't be warmed are very aromatic sakes that would have their qualities minimized in warming, such as the super premium Junmai Daiginjos.

For all of Sullivan's advice, including how to properly warm sake, watch the video above!


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