The introduction of the waterwheel in the 17th century, which eliminated the need for the manual polishing of rice grains, allowed Japan to begin producing saké at an industrial level for its greater population. Today Japan remains at the cutting edge of technology in its brewing practices. However, the traditional methods of handcrafted, artisanal saké remain alive in smaller and often family-owned breweries. Many of these showcase local ingredients and focus on microclimates to make what is known as ‘jizake,’ or regional saké.
A notch above Junmai in its milling requirement, by definition Junmai-Ginjo requires milling of 40% of the rice grain so that 60% of each grain remains. The categories of saké are established not by rice variety, but by the polishing or milling percentages. Junmai-Ginjo is made up of water, koji mold, yeast and rice and is brewed without the addition of any added alcohol.