Amazake vs Sake : What is the Difference?
When winter comes, hot beverages are sold in vending machines in Japan, from which you can buy a variety of heated soft drinks, like canned coffee, pet bottles of green tea, and canned soups.
Not only those, but some vending machines have even traditional Japanese drinks on offer, which include canned “Amazake (甘酒)”.
The Difference between Amazake and Sake (Nihonshu)
Actually, the name of the Japanese drink, Amazake can be divided into 2 words, “Ama (甘)” standing for “Amai (甘い)” meaning ” the adjective “sweet” and “Zake (酒)” usually meaning Sake rice wine.
Indeed, Amazake has a gentle sweetness and is really yummy, however, different than you may imagine and unlike Sake or “Nihonshu (日本酒)”, Amazake is categorized as a soft drink in Japan.
Then, what is the difference between Amazake and Sake (Nihonshu)?
Amazake comes in 2 types: one is made from malted rice called “Kome-Koji (米麹)” and rice, while the other is made by infusing Sake lees in hot water, to which sugar is added.
On the other hand, Sake or Nihonshu is usually made from rice, malted rice and water, fermented, and the impurities are filtered out.
Some Amazake are non-alcoholic, others contain alcohol less than 1 %. In Japan, less than 1 percent alcohol containing drinks are categorized as soft drinks and even children are permitted to drink them.
On the other hand, according to the liquor tax law in Japan, the alcohol content in Sake or Nihonshu must be less than 22 percent, and typical Japanese Sake rice wines contain 15 or 16 percent alcohol.
Appearance and Forms
Amazake is a white, cloudy, unrefined Sake-like soft drink, which is available in various forms in Japan, as canned or bottled drinks, in concentrated, powder or freeze-dried forms.
On the other hand, Sake or Nihonshu are clear, transparent alcoholic drinks, which are most commonly sold in glass bottles.
Both Amazake and Nihonshu can be served hot or cold.