[nama-ZAH-kay, nama-ZAH-kee (American English)] Japanese characters: 生酒 (生:raw, fresh, or living; 酒:sake)
1. Unpasteurized Sake
Name-zake is unpasteurized sake. It is often characterized as having flavors, aroma, and mouthfeel characterized by freshness.
2. Active Enzymes
A majority of sakes are heated (pasteurized) in order to stabilize quality, however nama-zake forgoes this process. As a result, enzymes and microorganisms remain active, making nama-zake particularly sensitive to changes in the surrounding environment. Strict storage and transport conditions are generally considered necessary to help guarantee the quality of the product.
3. Previously Rare
Lack of pasteurization leaves nama-zake in a fragile state, and until relatively recently was available only on-location at breweries or in select places close to the brewing source. However, thanks to modern brewing and cold storage technologies nama-zake is now becoming more widely available.
Although the names "nama-zake", "nama-chozo" and "nama-zume" are similar, they are different in terms of the number of times they are heated and the timing at which they are heated, as shown in the diagram above. Let's take a look at the characteristics of nama-zake, nama-chozo and nama-zume sake.