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Welcome to the Tengu Sake blog where you’ll find info, news & more all about sake

Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

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Welcome! This blog is designed as a compendium site to the Tengu Sake shop on this website. The blog is written and maintained by me, Oliver Hilton-Johnson – Tengu Sake’s Director and Sake Specialist, and I hope it answers all your sake questions (or at least grabs your interest)!

Please check out my pages via the horizontal navigation bar above for reference material and general information on sake. The blogs on this feed are categorised for your convenience (on r-h-s) and contain anything and everything from my random musings to detailed posts on sake brewing techniques, industry stats, awesome facts, food pairings and much more.

If you like what you see please do pop on over to our shop where you can buy sake online and have it delivered anywhere in the UK. If you like Japanese sake or are at all curious about it I’m pretty sure you’ll find something for you!

Finally, the best way to keep in touch is by following us on Twitter and Facebook and also signing up to our newsletter where you’ll hear about exclusive offers, events, news and more besides. Check out the contact us page for details.

Happy sake drinking!

Sake & food pairing Masterclass at The Wing Gang 2019

Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last Saturday (15th June) Tengu Sake exhibited six sakes from three different producers at the Wing Gang’s London Summer Festival in London. I had actually participated in a previous Wine Gang show (in 2013). I was a lone table amongst many, many wine companies and – given that setting – I found the punters not quite ready for sake. Maybe it’s indicative of how the market has changed over the past six years but this time people were very switched on and receptive – exhilarating!

Much of this interest I suspect to be the work of Anthony Rose. Anthony is a founding member of the Wine Gang and long-time advocate of sake; indeed, he has recently written an excellent book, Sake and the Wines of Japan, currently available on Amazon and elsewhere, I’m sure. I highly recommend it. Anyway, I suspect his enthusiasm and following are in no small part responsible for the very positive response this year. I was joined by other fellow sake slingers. In all – including Tengu Sake – there was a line up of some 17 sakes for people to try. Read more…

Dates for ROKA 15 events released

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Last month we released the exclusive ROKA 15 Junmai Daiginjo made especially for ROKA restaurants by Tatenokawa brewery to celebrate their 15-year anniversary. Throughout this year there will be a series of events, at ROKA, to celebrate this fantastic collaboration. The dates have been released:


5th JunePaired dinner at ROKA Canary Wharf (£115pp)

25th September – Paired dinner at ROKA Mayfair (price TBC)

22nd October – Canapés & Masterclass at ROKA Aldwych (price TBC)


NB – prices and dates may vary, please take this as just a save the date and always check with the restaurant nearer the time. We will update this page and our events page with any new information.

ROKA 15 – exclusive Junmai Daiginjo for ROKA’s 15th Anniversary

Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2019

5 bottles of ROKA 15 sake


London’s renowned contemporary Japanese robatayaki restaurant, ROKA, celebrates its fifteenth anniversary in the summer of 2019. To mark this auspicious occasion the group approached master sake brewers and long-time ROKA collaborators, Tatenokawa, asking them to craft a bespoke sake especially suited to ROKA’s signature robata dishes. ROKA 15 was born. Read more…

London Sake Week 2019

Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2019

London Sake Week 2019

Get ready to toast 2,000 years of Japanese tradition and culture this month with the exciting launch of the first ever London Sake Week.

Update – map added! (scroll down)

Read more…

Christmas 2018 sale now on!

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Head over to our Sake Shop to see the fantastic savings on offer.

Newsletter subscribers get sent additional savings and offers so the best way to save this Christmas is to sign up to our newsletter!

Tengu Sake Spirits launched!

Posted on Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Tengu Sake Spirits Selection June 18

The wait is finally over! We have launched our premium spirits range. Our initial line up consists of:

  • 2x Japanese gins
  • 3x awamori
  • 1x shochu

Unfortunately we are not currently offering the spirits for sale on tengusake.com but they are available at Master of Malt, Hedonism Wines and Berry Brothers and Rudd. You can find out more details on each of the products over on our spirits page.

IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2018

Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2018

Tengu Sake IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2018

Amazing – we did it again!!! Tengu Sake has been awarded IWC Specialist Sake Merchant of the Year 2018!

That’s three year’s running. What an achievement and I’m so proud that all the hard work Tengu Sake has been doing over the years is being recognised. Thank you to everyone: our customers and friends, without you this would not have been possible.

Tengu Sake still adheres to it’s principle tenets:

  • Quality products
  • Reasonable prices
  • Excellent customer service
  • Unparalleled communication and interpretation of products

Here’s to another year of slingin’ quality sake!

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2018

The new GDPR legislation comes into effect on 25th May 2018. We take your privacy and your rights to your data extremely seriously, we always have.

If you’ve recently stopped getting our newsletter you can sign up again here.

We’ve also published a Privacy Policy and updated our T&Cs.

Any questions please feel free to contact us!

Allowing sake to breathe?

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018


This is just a random musing but do you need to allow some sake to breathe?

I’ve been spending time with some pretty highly polished sakes recently. Tatenokawa has some sakes polished to 1%, 8% and 18%, for example, and I’ve noticed that these sakes tend to be better the next day. What’s going on here? Read more…

Tatenokawa “Zenith” Komyo Dewasansan

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2018

Tatenokawa Komyo Zenith label

This year marks a world first – the first sake ever to be polished down to a mere 1% – Tatenokawa “Zenith” Komyo Dewsansan

It is difficult to overplay the level of technical complexity and, thus, achievement associated with this astonishing accomplishment. Tatenokawa are well known for pushing the boundaries of what is achievable with highly polished rice. They had already produced an 8% polished and a 7% polished sake but, 1% is a whole different level.

When the 1% was announced, I took the opportunity to ask both Jumpei Sato, Tatenokawa’s CEO & Head Brewer, and Takeshi Sato (no relation), Tatenokawa’s number 2 a number of questions. Read more…

Event Review – Tatenokawa x ROKA 1%

Posted on Thursday, February 8th, 2018


Zenith is the English name for Tatenokawa’s newest sake, a Junmai Daiginjo, made with Dewasansan rice, polished all the way down to 1%. That’s just 1% of the rice grain left after months of polishing. No-one has ever accomplished this before. To celebrate, we invited Naomi-san from Tatenokawa to come over to the UK, teamed up with London’s ROKA Restaurant and, on 5th February 2018, held a dinner to be remembered. Read more…

New Functionality – select your delivery date

Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018

Order with confidence!

Being an avid internet shopper myself I know it’s difficult to make yourself available to receive goods when you are not sure when they’ll arrive. We’ve worked hard with out logistics provider to develop a system where you can select a specific day for your delivery. Read more…

Storing Sake

Posted on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Best conditions for Storing Sake

sake fridges

Looks great but – even though refrigerated – not good for long term sake storage!


Often I get asked the best way to store sake, this is particularly important during the festive or other gift-giving seasons as sake can often sit around for a while. I guess the first thing to address is how long sake lasts, so please read my How Long Sake Lasts blog post.

Now that’s cleared up it’s very simple, sake has two enemies: heat and light. Read more…

How Long Sake Lasts

Posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

How long sake lasts

Sake will, of course, last longer when it is stored correctly.

The question of how long sake lasts is actually quite difficult to answer and, certainly, there are a few breweries experimenting with ageing and maturing sake longer than what we traditionally consider a ‘safe’ or ‘wise’ period. This process is distinct from koshu (intentionally aged sake for longer than three years) which tends to have rich and deep umami-led flavours, often they are quite sweet too. What I’m talking about here are brewers who are either maturing their sake themselves for prolonged periods of time (but generally less than three years) or designing the sake to be sold ‘fresh’ and then develop over time. Some brewers are even doing this with namazake (unpasteurised sake), some Muroka Nama Genshu (unfiltered, unpasteurised & undiluted) rather suit a bit of maturation! Read more…

New Kids On The Block Hyakujyuro

Posted on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Hayashi Honten Hyakujyuro

Hayashi Honten have been expanding their Hyakujyuro range of sake, all instantly recognisable by their fantastic kabuki mask label design.

Their Junmai Daiginjo (Black Face) and Yamahai Junmai (Purple Warrior) from part of our core portfolio. The brewery have, however, a bunch of other sake in the lineup, mostly Junmai Ginjo, and we’ve brought a few to the UK for you to enjoy, each at £22:

Read more…

Triumphant! IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2017

Posted on Friday, July 7th, 2017

Tengu Sake IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2017

I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to announce that Tengu Sake has been awarded IWC Specialist Sake Merchant of the Year 2017!

When I started Tengu Sake I set some guiding principles:

  • Quality products
  • Reasonable prices
  • Excellent customer service
  • Unparalleled communication and interpretation of products

I am delighted that the International Wine Challenge has seen fit to award Tengu Sake Specialist Merchant of the Year for the second time running, specifically for playing a “vital role in raising the profile of sake in Britain.”

As ever it was a fun night at the awards ceremony. Great company and amazing to be recognised along with the breweries who did so well this year, here’s to next 😉

IWC Merchant Awards

Tengu Sake Nominated for IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2017

Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

We’re proud to announce, we’ve been

Shortlisted for IWC Sake Merchant of the Year 2017!

Sake Merchant of the Year 2017

We’re, once again, delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. Last year we were lucky enough to win (maybe two years in a row is too much to hope for!)

The awards dinner is on 6th July in London – we’ll find out then.

Read about last year’s awards dinner here

Sake pairings 1 – Gentle Breeze

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017

I thought I’d start a series of very brief posts where I show my experiences of trying various sake pairings with the sakes we offer in our shop.

Fukukomachi “Gentle Breeze” Junmai Ginjo from Kimura Shuzo

(find in our shop)


pickled herring (roll mops), mozzarella and plum tomatoes

Gentle Breeze w pickled herring, mozzarella and tomato


I’m a big fan of trying sake with non-Japanese foods and I encourage everyone to try!

This sake paring was a big win. Gentle Breeze is a great balance between aroma and flavour so the fruitiness of the sake calmed the fishiness of the herring, and the umami in the tomato and sake complemented each other beautifully. Finally the gentle acidity in the sake was more than enough to deal with the creamy mozzarella without overwhelming it.

Introducing Genroku Redux

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Recreated from a 1703 recipe

Polished to only 88%!

Brewed in wooden barrels using half the water, natural yeast & natural lactic acid bacilli

“Like stepping back in time and trying sake from a bygone era”

Available now in the Tengu Sake online shop

introductory offer, 20% off until 26/05/17!


BSA Maytime Sake Dinner

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

BSA Logo


Anzu Logo

On 15th May the British Sake Association hosted a sake dinner for their members and guests at London’s Anzu restaurant.  Our Director, Oliver, was invited along to present a selection of sakes, all paired with Anzu’s excellent food. The event was sold out and we welcomed 22 people for dinner.

Read more…

World Sake Day 2016 – Party at Kurobuta

Posted on Friday, September 9th, 2016

World Sake Day 2016 Kurobuta Sake Party

World Sake Day 2016 Party at Kurobuta

And the party starts here! A selection of sakes to try by the glass, sake cocktails, bar snacks on order and awesome tunes!

Free entry, no reservations needed. Party starts 1st October from 9:30pm ’til late.

If you’re interested in our paired dinner beforehand, starting at 7pm, check this out!



Kurobuta Chelsea
312 King’s Road,
London SW3 5UH

World Sake Day 2016 – Dinner at Kurobuta

Posted on Friday, September 9th, 2016

World Sake Day 2016 Kurobuta Dinner Poster


Kurobuta takes its inspiration from the Izakayas of Japan, where tapas-style plates are served to accompany drinks in a casual setting and to mark World Sake Day 2016 on 1st October, owner and chef Scott Hallsworth will be putting on a sake dinner and after party like no other at his Chelsea restaurant.

With Scott at the helm, the food is going to be out of this world and will be paired with epic sake samplers carefully selected by Tengu Sake, who supply incredible sake from multiple award-winning Japanese breweries.

This one-off evening will kick off in Kurobuta Chelsea’s basement at 7pm, where guests will be welcomed with amazing Japanese inspired canapés alongside killer sake cocktails.

This will be closely followed by a six-course, sake paired feast with all dishes being cooked in front of guests by Scott himself. Culinary theatre at its very best!

Oliver Hilton-Johnson from Tengu Sake will also be in the house, serving up his excellent sake and giving guests the lowdown on each pour.

World Sake Day 2016 dishes and pairings include (subject to change)

  • Chilli Crab Wonton Bombs paired with “Snow Blossom” Junmai Daiginjo Namazake – a super fresh and zesty style of sake with bright fruit flavours
  • Oyster-Sake Shots paired with “Konishi Silver” Ginjo Hiyashibori – a fresh, smooth and creamy sake, perfect with oysters!
  • ‘Krabbie Patties’ (mini chicken and red shrimp tempura with sweet and sour ponzu) paired with “Misty Mountain” Junmai Usunigori Bodaimoto – a funky, zesty and cloudy sake made to a special medieval recipe
  • Miso-Yaki Foie Gras Croissant paired with “3 Peaks” Tatenokawa 33 Junmai Daiginjo – the bright tropical fruit flavours will perfectly complement the deep, rich flavour of the foie gras

Then from 9.30 onwards there will be a DJ getting everyone in the mood to party Kurobuta style, plenty more sake cocktails available to buy. Check out the party!

To book your tickets for the Sake dinner and/or place on the after party guest list please email Chelsea@kurobuta-london.com or call 0207 920 6442 mentioning WORLD SAKE DAY DINNER. Tickets are £50 per person and are very limited!



Kurobuta Chelsea
312 King’s Road,
London SW3 5UH

Why does sake have added alcohol?

Posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Why does sake have added alcohol

A while back I wrote a post detailing which types of sake you can expect to be gluten free and which might contain some. In that post we learnt that some types of sake have a little added, distilled alcohol (often listed as “brewers’ alcohol” on the bottle). Naturally, this begs the question why? Why does sake have added alcohol? Read more…

IWC Merchant of the Year for Sake 2016

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2016

IWC Merchant of the Year for Sake 2016

We won!

Read more…

Dinner at Umu Restaurant June 2016

Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Last month I has the pleasure of joint-hosting a wonderful sake dinner with Honami Matsumoto from House of Sake at the spectacular and prestigious Umu Restaurant in London’s Mayfair.

To ensure an intimate setting the dinner was strictly limited to 10 places. Chef Ishii prepared a sublime six course meal with delicious green tea and delicate pastries to finish. Each course was paired with a different sake from our portfolio and Honami-san carefully selected exquisite sake cups and other service wares to enhance the experience. Overall it really was a night to remember.

A big, big thanks to all those who came and, of course, to Ryosuke Mashio the Head Sommelier at Umu for his wonderful service. Read more…

Father’s Day Gift Ideas 2016

Posted on Saturday, June 11th, 2016



Stuck for Father’s Day gift ideas?

If your dad’s as cool as James Bond he’s going to want some sake this Father’s Day. Even if he’s not, sake will help. A lot. So why not take advantage of our super Father’s Day sale which we’re running until the day itself (Sunday 19th June)?

Idea 1: Gift Vouchers

Our Gift Vouchers are proving super popular, and this Father’s Day we are offering an extra 10% free! For example, spend £50 on a gift voucher and get an extra 10% on us bringing it up to £60!!! Not sure what your Dad might like? No worries, leave the decisions up to him!

Click here to order a Gift Voucher

Idea 2: Sake Deals

We’ve discounted seven of our most popular sakes (up to 20%) so there’s something for everyone. Take a look:

Pearl Label Tatenokawa 50 Seiryu Label
Pearl (500ml)
A beautiful, sparkling Junmai Daiginjo
Konishi Silver (720ml)
Light, delicate, refreshing
Tatenokawa 50 (720ml)
Fruity, expressive & crisp
 Blank square
Autumn Leaves 720ml label Mountain Stream 500ml label Golden Amber 720ml label
Autumn Leaves (1.8l)
Warming caramel
Mountain Stream (1.8l)
Super fresh, zippy namazake
Golden Amber (720ml)
Deep oaky, rich, aged 12 years
Nirvana – Fresh in! Winner of 6 consectutive Gold Medals, limited stock

Alternatively, why not spoil yourself!

Sale ends 19th June.

Shortlisted for IWC Specialist Merchant of the Year

Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2016

IWC Specialist Sake Merchant of the Year 2016

Holy moly! We’ve been shortlisted for Specialist Merchant of the Year 2016!

The International Wine Challenge has been judging wine for 33 years and is accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine competition. The IWC receives entries from every corner of the globe and employs a vast number of international wine experts to judge the competition. The results of the IWC are covered by the world’s media, reaching over 1.2 billion people worldwide.

It is a great honour to have been shortlisted in these prestigious awards. In 2014 we were shortlisted for “Innovator of the Year” but, unfortunately missed out on the grand prize. This year we hope to bring it home! We’ll find out at the glitzy awards dinner on 7th July.

Of course, a huge thank you must go out to all our customers. Without you we would be nothing.

Thank you for loving sake and thank you for choosing Tengu Sake!

Incidentally, the IWC has been judging sake – alongside wine – for 10 years now. I am lucky enough to have been a sake judge for three years and this year, to celebrate 10 years, the judging was in Japan (as opposed to the usual London venue). More on this is a later blog.

Is sake gluten free?

Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2016

Is sake gluten free

I was recently asked is sake gluten free or not (some of you may have noticed that on some of our bottles gluten is indeed listed as an allergen). The answer, in a word, is complicated.

Read more…

New sake line up event at Salmontini

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

New Tengu Sake range 2016

New sake indeed!

On 9th March our Director, in association with the British Sake Association, presented the new line up of sakes from Tengu Sake at Salmontini Le Resto in London’s Belgravia.

Salmontini Le Resto

Read more…

Setsubun 2016 – Sake & Food Extravaganza!

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2016

CELEBRATE SETSUBUN 2016 – the demon banishing festival!

Setsubun 2016 event invite


Join us for great sake & great food. Join the shout of “In with Fortune! Out with Evil!” to prevent evil ogres from entering YOUR house!

Read more…

Mulled sake recipe

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2015

Kurobuta Christingle Cocktail

So, last week I made some mulled sake for a Christmas drinks party. I have to confess to being a little dubious about the whole idea but, actually, it worked really well and was heartily guzzled by my guests. Credit for the recipe must go to Ali over at Kurobuta Marble Arch; he is, of course, using Tengu Sake in the recipe!

Mulled Sake Recipe

  • 1.8l Signature Brew (although Ancient Mountain would be fine too, you just have to add less sugar)
  • 1 tea spoon Cloves
  • 6 Star Anis
  • 2 Sticks Cinnamon (crushed)
  • 2 Orange peels
  • 2 Lemon Peels
  • 1l Sweetened Jasmine Tea
  • 3″ Thumb of Ginger
  • 175ml Cointreau / Grand Marnier (I actually didn’t have any so I just added some orange juice from the peeled oranges)
  • Further honey/brown sugar to taste

Toast all the spices first, then add to tea, peels & sake. Leave the brew over a low heat for 1.5 hours (ish). Leave to cool, then strain (straining is important otherwise the brew gets too spicy)

The photo above is actually for Ali’s Christingle Cocktail, which uses the above mulled sake recipe as the base but adds some embellishes. It is available NOW at Kurobuta Marble Arch

Kurobuta Marble Arch
17-20 Kendal Street
Marble Arch
W2 2AW

Best Sakes for Winter 2015

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Tatenokawa winter

The nights are getting longer and there’s a definite chill in the air!  Perhaps you’ve put your heating on or are burrowed deep in a blanket, keeping warm.  Have no fear, remedy is at hand!  WINTER = WARM SAKE! (read our guide to sake & temperature).  Here are some recommendations for best sakes for winter 2015 from the Tengu Sake range (click on the images to take you to the product).

Sakes You Can Warm

Black Samurai 720ml label Rocky Mountain 500ml label Morning Dew 720ml label
Black Samurai – rich & funky yamahai! Rocky Mountain – rustic, raw and earthy Morning Dew – dry, peppery & well-structured
 Blank square
Waning Moon Label Ancient Mountain 720ml label Signature Brew 1800ml label
Waning Moon – smooth, easy-drinking Ancient Mountain – warming, rich & creamy Signature Brew – dry everyday sake, big bottle

Other Suggestions

It’s always nice to have a cracking Junmai Daiginjo to hand: try a glass of Tatenokawa 50 by the fire. Aperitif is a beautiful aged sake, one to be savoured or served with pud!  If you just can’t decide, our Full & Funky Selection is great to explore too – lots of interesting flavours and types of sake.

Tatenokawa 50 Seiryu Label Aperitif 300ml label Tengu Sake full and funky sake selection
Tatenokawa 50 – fruity, expressive & crisp Aperitif – aged, rich, malty & sophisticated Full & Funky Selection – exciting & unique sake


Snuggle up warm this winter with some delicious warm sake!

World Sake Day 2015 – review

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

A big thank you to everyone who came down on 1st October for our World Sake Day party!

I held a Masterclass beforehand for around 25 people; the theme was sake & temperature and we tried three different sakes, both cold and warm: Rocky Mountain, Silent Forest & Morning Dew.  Since it was World Sake Day we also had a toast with Tatenokawa 18!

The party kicked off with aplomb around 8pm with 4 sake cocktails to choose from by the masters at Pimpshuei as well as 5 sakes by the glass.

Check out some photos from this year’s party; see you next year!

Read more…

World Sake Day 2015

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2015

This year for World Sake Day 2015 WE. WILL. PARTY!

1. 6:30 to 8pm – Sake Masterclass (you need to get tickets for this – see below)
2. Then, from 8pm (FREE to all!)…

World Sake Day 2015 party at Pimpshuei Read more…

天狗の酒 (The Tengu’s Sake)

Posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Tengu no sake

There’s a great little video from a series called “Folktales from Japan” in which sake and Tengus are featured in one of the short episodes. It’s made for kids but it’s a lot of fun and gives an insight into the Tengu legend!

Click on the image above to watch the video.  Skip to 8m 30s to get to the relevant story or, if you’ve got some time on your hands, check out the whole video!

Making sake is no mean feat

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015

The brewery workers at Hayashi Honten

Earlier this year I had the fortune (and, frankly, honour) to intern in Hayashi Honten brewery, Gifu Prefecture.

My gracious host for this two-week period was Rieko Hayashi, an inspirational lady and the President of Hayashi Honten. Hayashi-san generously opened her home to me and had me to stay with her and her family, whilst I spent the two weeks ‘in the thick of it’, elbow deep in sake under the watchful eye of Master Brewer, Sakai-san.

It was, needless to say, a fascinating and eye-opening experience – one I’ve vowed to repeat!

Making sake is a hugely complicated process. They say (I’m not sure who ‘they’ are but they do say, nonetheless) that with wine – because growing grapes is so arduous – 80% of the work is done once the grapes are picked. With sake, about 10% of the work is done once the rice is harvested; 90% therefore remains and it is down to the skill of the toji (Master Brewer) and the kurabito (brewery workers) to turn this white grain into the sublime drink we know and love.

You can read my overview of sake making on this website on our How Sake is Made page

I was asked to write an article for internet-based sake magazine ‘Museum of Sake Journal’ and I wanted to share that with the readers of this blog. Please click here or on the image below to read the article and discover what my two weeks at Hayashi Honten were like. Do check out the rest of the magazine too, it’s great!

Black Face banner

Best sake for summer

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015


The sun is out, summer has arrived and it’s picnic time! But what is the best sake for summer? Here are our top suggestions from the Tengu Sake range.

Namazake is made for summer, literally.

It’s fresh out of the press, bottled and shipped without going through any pasteurisation. Namazake is super fresh, zippy, zesty and refreshing. You can check out our namazakes individually or go right ahead and get our Nama Selection!

Mountain Stream Dancing Geisha Label
 Mountain Stream – layered, complex, fresh & young Dancing Geisha – fresh, zesty & fruity
 Blank square
Tengu Sake nama sake selection
Namazake Selection – all our namazakes in one place for you to order


Other choices for summer

Here are some other stunning choices to enjoy on a warm summer’s day.

Gozenshu 9 Yuzushu Label Pearl Label
Gozenshu Yuzushu – Simply delicious, try with tonic! Pearl – our new slightly sparkling Daiginjo sake
 Blank square
Konishi Gold Label Premium Brew Label
Konishi Gold – crisp, light, fruity Daiginjo Premium Brew – subtle, dry & light
 Blank square
Tatenokawa 33 Label
Tatenokawa 33 “Brook” – from the masters of Junmai Daiginjo, Tatenokawa – elegant & expressive fruit flavours


We hope this helps you choose your best sake for summer!

Is Japan finally safeguarding a national treasure?

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


“What makes sake, sake?”

A good question if I’ve ever heard one, and there are a lot of – some well-defined – answers. However, an interesting aspect is whether, in order to be called sake, it has to be made in Japan or not (for the purposes of this article I’m referring to Japanese sake and emulations thereof). Indeed the Japanese do not even refer to what we call ‘sake‘ as sake at all; instead, they call it nihonshu (日本酒) meaning ‘Japanese alcohol’. Read more…

Stop! Hanami time.

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Discount on sake in our sake shop, see below for details.


Right now it’s hanami season in Japan. Hanami is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers, usually cherry blossom, it is also an opportunity for everyone to cut loose, get together with friends, throw a blanket under the trees, grab some sake and have some fun!


The picture below is of the Shin-Sakai River in Kakamigahara City, Gifu Prefecture where Hayashi Honten brewery are based. The Kabuki actor, Hyakujuro, donated 1000 cherry blossom trees (sakura) to the city; they now line the river and when they bloom – as you can imagine – it is a spectacular site to behold, if you were there you’d want to have a party too! To commemorate this Hayashi Honten brew Black Face, a cracking junmai daiginjo, with Hyakujuro’s kabuki mask decorating the front label.


We wanted to bring some of the hanami festival fun to you here in the UK! Perhaps you are lucky enough to have some cherry blossom near you – you might have seen it burst in to bloom recently (or maybe it’s soon to come) – at any rate, it’s definitely getting warmer so grab a blanket, get some friends together and have yourself a hanami party!

We’ll help by offering – to all newsletter subscribers –  15% discount on ALL orders, AND free delivery on any orders over £60. If you’re a subscriber you will receive your discount code, if not all you need to do is sign up here!

If you’re wondering where you can enjoy hanami in the UK:


Sake Myths

Posted on Sunday, February 15th, 2015

There are a lot of sake myths and mis-information out there so here are a few facts we hope will clear things up!

  • There are tens of thousands of sakes produced in Japan. They all have very different characteristics so if you’ve tried one and didn’t like it then the chances are you might find another one that you do like!
  • Sake is not a spirit!  It is a brewed beverage like a beer.
  • Most sake is 15-16% alcohol, only marginally stronger than wine.
  • You can drink sake however you wish but it was designed to be sipped and savoured like a wine.
  • Sake does not have to be drunk hot! The Japanese actually have nine different temperatures at which sake can be enjoyed, starting at 0°C all the way up to 55°C+. Different sake suit different temperatures. See our page on sake & temperature.
  • There are only four main ingredients: rice, koji, yeast & water.  It is rarely fortified.
  • There is usually no vintage; sake is designed to be drunk within 1-2 years of bottling (although there are some aged sake called koshu).
  • Sake has a mild taste with light acidity, bitterness or astringency. No more heart burn!
  • Finally, it is free from sulphites & other preservatives; instead, it’s pasteurised. No more fiendish hangover!

In summary the rough, boiling-hot gut-rot of yore is no more! Instead, as interest has grown and technology (both manufacturing and transportation) has improved, the quality of sake available in the UK has improved immeasurably.

We hope that has cleared up some of the sake myths and encouraged you to give it a go!  Pop on over to our shop to see what you can find.

Using the Tengu Sake Master Specs

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015

In our shop we quote a series of ‘Master Specs’ for all our sake. These are not special Tengu Sake Master Specs in so much as we didn’t come up with the system, these are metrics given by most brewers. As the name suggest you kind of have to be an expert to really understand what they mean and how they’ll affect you experience. I can’t fully explain them all here but what I can give you is an insight into what they mean, future blog entries will expand (under master specs tag), and tastings I host will help your understanding so do pop along!

  • ABV: alcohol content as a percentage, by volume. Ok, this one isn’t revelatory but it can have an impact on you choices for food pairings.
  • Polishing rate: complicated! This is covered on the types of sake page.
  • SMV: The Sake Metre Value (or nihonshu-do in Japanese) gives you a very rough indication of the relative dryness of sweetness of a sake. It generally ranges from -6 to about +8 (but most are -2 to +4), with negative numbers being sweet and positive, dry; anything outside of that is considered extreme (but not unpleasant, just unusual). +2 is about neutral for the western palate.
  • Acidity-metre: high acidity will make a sake feel drier (which is one of the many reasons the SMV in isolation is a poor indicator of dry/sweet). Acidity also has the affect of spreading flavour around the mouth (both of the sake and the food it is paired with). Temperature affects your perception of acidity, and acidity is important when considering which foods to pair. The scale is arbitrary and generally ranges from  0.7 to 2.5-ish; anything out of these ranges is quite extreme.
  • Amino-metre: is a rough measure of the amount of amino acids present in a sake. Certain amino acids give the umami flavour (see the pairing with food page) and so the amino-metre is an indicator of a sake‘s umami. The scale is again arbitrary and generally runs from 0.7 to 1.7, anything above that very full of umami flavour.
  • Rice: obviously the rice chosen to make a sake (there are many different varieties) affects the flavour. I will talk about rice types in future posts under the ‘rice’ tag.

The last thing I want is for these specs to be intimidating. Sake is a very involved subject and the rabbit-hole goes very deep! These specs are design for those that already know a lot about sake. However, the more you drink it and the more you learn about it (this blog is a good place to start) the more you’ll begin to understand what these stats mean.

Updated website & special offer – 25% off

Posted on Friday, December 12th, 2014

Limited offer – 25% off!!! See below for details!

32Now I know you’ve been checking and you’re quite right, the Tengu Sake website has been down for the past couple of days. Why? Because TODAY we’re launching a super-awesome, new version!

“But it looks the same!”, I hear you say. Well, yes, but things behind the scenes are a hell of a lot simpler, plus, there’s some seriously cool new features:

  • responsive website – Tengu Sake is now optimised for mobile platforms. Browse on the go and purchase your favourite sake anywhere!
  • better user experience – the checkout process is much approved and more streamlined now. Yipee! Less faffing, more drinking.
  • Sake Wares – we now have four fabulous sake sets for you. Everything from simple glazed sets for warm sake through to beautifully hand-crafted gold leaf sets for your premium, cold sake. Check them out here.
  • Gift wrapping – this has been a long time coming! I’m delighted to announce that we have some fantastic presentation boxes that you can opt to have your sake sent in. Just tick the gift wrap option before you add your sake to your cart.
  • New products – we’ve added seven new products to our portfolio. Three cracking flavoured sakesyuzu, ume (plum), momo (peach) – an uber-premium, Gold Medal winning Daiginjo: Nirvana; a new Junmai Gijno, Zen Mountain; a thigh-slappingly tasty Daiginjo Koshu.

All this whilst retaining the ‘filtering by characteristic’ functionality you love so much on the Sake Shop pages.

To celebrate the launch of the new site I’m running a 25% sale on all sake and sake selections until midnight on 14th December! Just use coupon code xmas25 to claim your 25% discount!


Happy sake drinking,
– Oliver

Aga Living, baby!

Posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Tengu Sake is featured in Aga Living this Autumn! One of the best things to do with an Aga, surely, is to warm your sake on a cold day, so being featured in the Autumn addition is perfectly apt! If you want to learn more about which sakes should be warmed and how to do it, check out this blog post.

Otherwise click on the image to see the full article.


 The full magazine can be found on the Aga Living website.

Today is International Sake Day!

Posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Well, technically it’s nihonshu no hi (日本酒の日) so just ‘Sake Day’ but I think that’s less of a call to action than INTERNATIONAL SAKE DAY!!!!

It’s a bonafide date in the Japanese calendar but why should 1st October in particular be Sake Day? As ever, it’s complicated but here goes… Read more…

Sneak peak at Kurobuta Sake Party menu!

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2014

To celebrate International Sake Day on 29th September we’re having a PARTY!!! Here’s what’s on the menu…

Read more…

Sake Party @ Kurobuta Chelsea

Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2014

Epic sake party to celebrate International Sake Day!
Kurobuta Chelsea – Monday 29th September 18:30 – 21:00


This is going to be awesome. Last time we did a party in Kurobuta it rocked and this time we’re dreaming up some amazing sake and food pairings for you to try.

Read more…

An introduction to sake @ the Japan Foundation

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2014

Not sure about sake? Want to discover the basics? Want to try a few and get your bearings?

If so then please join me for an introduction to sake at the Japan Foundation, London on 24 September 2014 from 6.30pm.  Admission free.


Hyper Japan Award

Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2014


The accolades keep rolling in!

Rocky Mountain has been voted “Best Sake with British Food” at this year’s Sake Experience at Hyper Japan. Over 1100 people visited the Sake Experience (a 44% increase on last year).

To celebrate our award I’m offering a 10% discount and free delivery for a half case (6 bottles+) of Rocky Mountain!

Rocky Mountain offer
NB – discount only shows after you’ve logged in/registered and added 6 bottles of Rocky Mountain to your shopping cart. Discount only applicable to Rocky Mountain.


Rustic, raw and earthy

JAPANESE NAME OF SAKE:  Gozenshu 9 Regular
TYPE OF SAKE:                        Junmai Bodaimoto
BREWERY:                                Tsuji Honten

This is a rustic, raw and earthy sake with malt, caramel and cereal all present on the nose. The flavours are smoothly presented, well-balanced, rich and deep. Again, caramel, malt and cereal are the predominant flavours and, when warmed (30°C – 45°C), Rocky Mountain favours the sweeter caramel notes.

Full umami in this sake means it’s a wonderful pair with richer flavours. Think cheese burger, think BBQ, think anti pasti, roasts, game, cheese, tomato sauces…

So, next time you’re reaching for a full-bodied red to go with your summer BBQ, why not grab a bottle of Rocky Mountain, wow your friends and experience umami matching like never before.

Visit the Tengu Sake shop and buy now!

Hyper Japan Sake Experience Line-up

Posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Here’s a sneak peek at the line up for this year’s Sake Experience at Hyper Japan (25 – 27th July)

Hope to see you there! If you don’t have tickets yet there still some available at hyperjapan.co.uk

Competition: Sake Experience 2014

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2014


Event Info
Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest Japan culture festival held over three days (25th – 27th July) at London’s Earl’s Court. It’s a lot of fun but kind of crazy! Lot’s of food, anime, cosplay, art, budo, clothing, you name it! Every year they run the Sake Experience, it always proves extremely popular with almost 800 people attending last year.

This year there will be 11 Japanese breweries attending and you’ll have the opportunity to try sake from all of them. Two Tengu Sake breweries – Tsuji Honten & Yoshida – will be there.

All you have to do is answer this simple question to be entered into our prize draw for one free ticket to the Sake Experience:

Q: What is my favourite vessel to drink sake from?  (clue: look around this blog!)

Read more…

Natsu Matsuri: dinner, disco, sake!

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2014


Wednesday 30th July 2014, 7:30pm – £35 – limited places

Read more…

Article in Harpers Wine & Spirit Magazine

Posted on Friday, July 4th, 2014


Off the back of being shortlisted for Innovator of the Year, Harpers Wine & Spirit (the must read publication for the UK wine and spirits trade) wanted an interview.

Check it out here

Father’s Day Offer

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014

Free delivery on 2+ bottles of Junmai Daiginjo, Daiginjo or our aged sake Golden Amber

Offer valid until end of 11th June.

Order any combination of these great sake and, as long as you order 2 or more bottles, we’ll deliver them straight to your door, free of charge!

Click here to take advantage of this offer!

Clicking the link above will take you to the ‘Discover Our Sake’ page on the Tengu Sake website. You’ll find all our Junami Daiginjo and Daiginjo sakes on the top row, Golden Amber is a little further down, in the Junmai section (or just filter by clicking the “Aged” pictogram).

Happy sake drinking!

Shortlisted for ‘Innovator’ award!

Posted on Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Tengu Sake has been nominated for an International Wine Challenge Merchant Award – Innovator of the Year

Direct Merchant of the Year shortlisted

I am absolutely thrilled that Tengu Sake has been nominated for this prestigious award. I started this company about a year ago because I wanted to bring fantastic sake into the UK and make it available and accessible to a non-Japanese-speaking audience. I had lost count of the number of times I had been frustrated with the lack of clear descriptions, tasting notes, etc. available for sake – you literally had to be a expert to understand what the sake you were holding in your hand might taste like – to me that just seemed crazy! I started Tengu Sake to address this (and other!) issues and it is reassuringly awesome that by being shortlisted for this award, other’s recognise our efforts. This the first time a sake company has ever been shortlisted (these things, naturally, are dominated by the wine trade) so I’m delighted we’re in there, reppin’ the sake industry!

For those of you that don’t know, The International Wine Challenge is the world’s most rigorously judged wine competition and has long been a champion of giving sake the recognition it deserves. They introduced sake judging in 2007 and, since then, it has grown to become the biggest sake competition outside Japan, attracting over 700 entries in 2014 (I actually judged for the first time this year but more on that in another blog!).

They also run awards for merchants, there are 16 award categories open to retailers and wholesalers alike.  You can find the full shortlist, us included, for all the awards here.

As you can see we’re up against serious competition – some ‘big boys’ in wine – as I said, this is the first time a sake company has been up for an award (possibly the first time any non-wine company has been) but fingers crossed: who knows.

The results are all announced at an awards dinner on 16th July. Wish me luck!

“Cracking Kurobuta sake selection”

Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2014


I’ve been working with the team over at Kurobuta for some time now; most noticeably the mighty Head Chef, Scott Hallsworth. Kurobuta started off as a small pop-up on the Kings Road in Chelsea and now, 6 months later and after spectacular reviews, that site’s gone permanent and they’ve opened a new, bigger joint near Marble Arch.

Their food is the business and – according to the Telegraph – so’s their sake (“cracking” actually!) This is just as well since I’m proud to say that both Kurobuta restaurants are supplied, exclusively, by Tengu Sake!

Read more…

Featured in Wallpaper* magazine!

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014

Best Bar Snacks – Japanese nibbles to match your tipples

Apparently, we’re cool enough for our sake to be selected to appear in uber-cool design magazine, Wallpaper*

Check it out:

img_0167 Read more…

Write-up in the FT’s ‘How to spend it’

Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014

Tengu Sake: an e-cache of premium rice wine
An intelligent, luxurious approach to Japan’s finest brews

Very chuffed with the write-up Tengu Sake received in the FT’s ‘How to spend it‘ section on 20th February!

They liked the search functionality on the website:

“A nifty tool also allows shoppers to select bottles by criteria such as light, rich, fragrant, dry, with food or for enjoyment “by itself”.”

They liked our pre-selected cases:

“Knowledgeable sake connoisseurs and lay-Itsu-eaters alike will enjoy the top-flight Ichiban Selection…”

And they liked me:

“Tengu Sake is clearly a labour of love and Hilton-Johnson has carefully curated from the light and fruity to extremely bold offerings.”

As they said…

“I’ll drink to that.”

Read the full article here.

Hayashi Honten & Kurobuta restaurant sake party!

Posted on Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Exclusive sake & Kurobuta canapés night
Monday 24th February 19:00 – 21:00

now booking!!!

Very exciting news!  Hayashi-san, head of Hayashi Honten brewery, is visiting the UK at the end of this month. So, we thought it was a good excuse for a party! We’ve teamed up with the ever-amazing Kurobuta restaurant on the King’s Road to run an exclusive, rock-and-roll, Kurobuta-style sake event.

Read more…

It’s competition time!

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Win one of our Brewery Selections!


Tengu Sake is currently running a competition on the At Home Magazine website, offering a lucky reader the chance to win one of our Brewery Selections!!!

Head on over to the At Home Magazine competition page to enter
if you can’t wait that long and simply HAVE to get a case NOW then we’re currently offering the Brewery Selection at a special discounted price and with free delivery at tengusake.com

Happy sake drinking.

Brand new, updated website!

Posted on Friday, January 17th, 2014

Exciting times! We just rolled out an updated version of our website www.tengusake.com.

How’s it different, you say?! Check it out:


You can now create a profile, place an order, and pay for it all via the website. No more paying over the phone or by bank transfer.


Simply create an account when you checkout and, next time you login, all your delivery preferences will be there!



Most awesomely, finding the perfect sake for you just got easier! How? You can now filter your sake choices using our unique pictogram system, simply by clicking on the pictograms at the top of the page.


You can do this on both our Discover Our Sake page and our All Products page. Go on, try it now!  NB – these two pages have now been combined into one, our Sake Shop.


More information is now detailed about each sake on the sake‘s product page. The right-hand column now details:

  • the pictograms associated with each sake
  • recommended drinking temperatures
  • a breakdown of the flavours and profile of the sake via a flavour graph
  • recommended food pairings
  • and, of course, for those in the know, our ‘Master Specs


We’ve done all this to make it easier for you to find and order the sake you want. As ever, if you’re struggling do not hesitate to give us a call or drop us an email, we’re always happy to give advice!

New 2014 events posted

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014

Head on over to the events page to see the events we have lined up, so far, for 2014!

Events page

Guide to Junmai Ginjo & Ginjo sake

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Browse (Junmai) ginjo on our sake shop

Junmai Ginjo and ginjo are both made with rice polished rice to remove at least 40% of the outer layer of the grain (reminder of sake classifications). It accounts for only 3% of all sake produced, and is celebrated for its pronounced fruity flavours and fragrance.


The defining characteristic of this class of sake is the fabulous fruity and floral scents. Common scents include apple, melon, pear, strawberry, banana, lychee, and citrus fruits. Flavours are generally light and delicate , they can also be highly nuanced but not as much as the more refined (junmai) daiginjo class.

Junmai ginjo (made without added alcohol) is generally deeper in flavour with a slightly more muted nose than it’s ginjo counterpart, which tends to emphasis the fruity notes and produces a lighter, more delicate sake.

Blue Dragon Label Silent Forest Label
 Blue Dragon – Delicious, fresh, fruity & light Silent Forest –  rich honey, melon & dried apricot; good cold & warm


Konishi Silver Label
Konishi Silver – Gold Medal winning sake. Light, delicate, refreshing with lower alcohol



You have more leeway with ginjo and junmai ginjo than you do with their more milled daiginjo brothers. The more fruity types generally are best drunk colder but you can experiment at warmer temperatures with others. Silent Forest, for example, is fabulous at 30-35°C.


This category of sake can be drunk on its own but also goes very well with food. Junmai ginjo tend to have more umami tasting amino acids than (junmai) daiginjo so pair well with fuller flavours. A fabulous grilled steak is a good example; although, unless they have ample acidity they will not benefit from the addition of a creamy Bearnaise sauce!

Konishi Silver is a great match for meaty seafood (scallops, etc.), Silent Forest is fabulous with salty foods, creamy cheeses or meats, and Blue Label pairs well with hard cheeses and stews.

Guide to Junmai Daiginjo & Daiginjo sake

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Browse (junmai) daiginjo in our sake shop

Both junmai daiginjo and daiginjo are made with highly polished rice from which at least 50% of the outer layer of the grain has been removed (reminder of sake classifications). It accounts for the top 3% of all sake produced, and represents the pinnacle of the brewers’ craft.


Building on the wonderful fruity and floral scents you get with (junmai) ginjo sake, at this level (the zenith of sake brewing), the brewer is aiming for delicate sophistication and nuanced, layered flavours. One of the real joys of the (junmai) daiginjo category is sitting back, taking your time and discovering a new fragrance or flavour with each raise of the glass: bliss!

Junmai daiginjo (made without added alcohol) is generally deeper in flavour with a slightly more muted nose than its daiginjo counterpart, which tends to emphasis the fruity notes and produces a lighter, more nuanced sake.

Pearl Label Black Face Label Rare Brew Label
Pearl – a silky & elegant, finely sparkling sake Black Face – flavourful & exciting Rare Brew – clear, dry & refreshing
 Blank square
Tatenokawa 50 Seiryu Label Tatenokawa 33 Label Tatenokawa 18 Label
Tatenokawa 50 “Stream” – fruity, expressive & crisp Tatenokawa 33 “Brook” – elegant & expressive fruit flavours Tatenokawa 18 “Spring” – ultra premium, superbly fruity


Snow Blossom 720ml label White Dragon Label White Dragon Label
Snow Blossom – fresh & zesty fruit salad White Dragon – smooth sipping umami fruits Special White Dragon – sweet, complex & fragrant
 Blank square
Konishi Gold Label
Konishi Gold – fruity aroma with light flavour; for wine lovers


Both daiginjo and junmai daiginjo are best drunk cold. Their delicate flavours and scents become unbalanced and overwhelming if allowed to warm.


Due to their delicate and nuanced characteristics, (junmai) daiginjo can be fabulous enjoyed on their own, perhaps to unwind at the end of the day or before a meal as an apéritif.

There are, however, some that have enough acidity & structure – such as Hayashi Honten’s Black Face – to go superbly with clean tasting, oilier dishes such as fatty sashimi/sushi or paté. Yamatogawa Shuzo’s Snow Blossom has slightly more alcohol and so will work similarly.  White Dragon goes especially well with creamy flavours (e.g. mayonnaise), deep fried foods and a bit of chilli!

Other styles of sake

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

There are many different methods in which to brew sake, which can result in plenty of other styles of sake, supplementary to the main types. Some of the brewing methods are deeply complicated, and some a secret known only to the toji (Master Brewer) of the brewery; however, the main types can be brewed in a number of different ‘styles’. These ‘styles’ greatly affect the sake’s characteristics and can transform a mild-mannered junmai, for example, into a full-bodied heavyweight using one ‘style’ or into a light and fruity tipple if brewed in another.

Rather than give a detailed description of each and every other style of sake this post will serve as a general reference with further blog posts providing additional detail.


Namazake is unpasteurised sake (nama meaning ‘raw’ or ‘fresh’). Sake usually goes through a two-step pasteurisation process to stop fermentation, stabilise the brew and increase longevity, namazake does not. This results in a brew which is fresh, lively and zingy in character with ripe fruit flavours – such as banana, apples and watermelon – and notes of freshly cut grass or wood. Due to it’s fresh and fruity profile it is very popular in the West; however, due to its unpasteurised nature it must be kept refrigerated at all times to stop it from spoiling. Fresh, ripe, fruity, zesty and refreshing are the watchwords here.

Mountain Stream Snow Blossom
 Mountain Stream – layered, complex, fresh & young Snow Blossom – super fresh & zesty with fruit salad flavours


Kimoto and yamahai are two of the oldest styles of sake brewing. The nature of the brewing process allows airborne organisms (wild yeasts, fungi, bacteria, etc.) to enter the brew at a very early stage. Before all these organisms die off naturally, as part of the brewing process, they have an opportunity to leave their mark. This results in wilder, gamier, fuller and often rougher-edged flavours that are exciting and intriguing. Often yamahai has bigger gamy, rich and wild flavours than kimoto, with more pronounced acidity.

Black Samurai
Black Samurai – rich & full bodied with buckets of umami


Bodaimoto is, to my knowledge, the oldest style of brewing method still used today; its roots extend back to the 14th century. Like both the kimoto and yamahai techniques wild organisms have time to make their mark, thus sake made with the bodaimoto technique is similarly funky and wild in character but, due to the particulars of the technique, also tends to result in sake with a slightly sour quality that brilliantly offsets and mellows the gamier and rougher notes.

Rocky Mountain Misty Mountain Mountain Stream
Rocky Mountain – rustic, raw & earthy Misty Mountain – cloudy, zesty & exciting Mountain Stream – layered, complex, fresh & young


Koshu or aged sake is becoming increasingly popular in the West. It represents a tiny, tiny percentage of all the sake produced and so can be highly sought after. Generally, sake is not designed to be aged and the methods employed to do so vary wildly; thus, koshu‘s flavours and characteristics also vary wildly. In general, when aged, sake tends to become heavier, mustier, more acidic and the flavours more concentrated and rounded. Aged sake is often likened to sherry in its flavour profiles and generally savoured on its own, after a meal.

Golden Amber Aperitif
Golden Amber – superb 12-year aged sake with beguiling notes of toffee & oak Aperitif – aged 8 years, similar to an oaked, sweet sherry


Nigori-zake is ‘cloudy’ sake or, more specifically, sake with some rice lees (particles of rice) left in when bottled. On the whole, nigori-zake is less refined, fuller and thicker textured – due to the suspended lees – than its filtered counterparts. Usu-nigori is a type of nigori-zake that has only a very small amount of lees remaining in suspension. Usu-nigori results in a much more subtle brew but still retains the funkier, thicker flavours associated with nigori-zake.

Misty Mountain
Misty Mountain – cloudy, zesty & exciting

Our sparkling sake is also an usu-nigori (see below)


There are a number of less well known styles of sake, some of which are available in the UK.

Sparkling sake is usually low in alcohol and, as the name suggests, sparkling!

Pearl Label
Pearl – silky & elegant, finely sparkling sake

Taruzake is sake that has been stored in a wooden cask of Japanese cedar. The sake draws out the flavours of the wood and gives a fresh, lively and often peppery cedar flavour that tends to drown out any other flavours the sake may have! Traditionally drunk at New Year this sake is a lot of fun but lacks subtlety.

Kijoushu is a ‘fortified’ sake where some of the water used in the brewing process is substituted for already brewed sake. It is a rich, desert-like beverage that is often aged too. Kijoushu can be deliciously alluring but only a handful of breweries make it so it’s difficult to get hold of (and expensive!)

There are others but they are quite niche and their peculiarities rather specific! If you’re really interested, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to fill you in.

Guide to Futsushu sake

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Browse futsushu in our sake shop.

Futsushu sake is the most popular type of sake in Japan, it accounts for about 75% of all sake produced (reminder of sake classifications), it is the equivalent of an everyday ‘table wine’. Abroad, futsushu is often overlooked in favour of the more polished ‘special designation’ sake. This is a mistake! Whilst there are some pretty rough and ready futsushu out there (because it is not as tightly regulated as ‘special designation’ sake) there are also some fabulous, easy drinking and inexpensive ones too. We highly recommend you experiment and try them out for yourself!


As there are so many different futsushu it is difficult to generalise. However, since the rice used to make this style of sake is (generally) not highly polished, we can say that both the fragrance and flavour are likely to emphasise the the rice and the koji notes.

Cheap and nasty futsushu will be unbalanced, unsubtle, taste strongly alcoholic and might be a bit of a chore to drink! By contrast, good quality futsushu is deliciously flavourful, smooth yet rich and incredibly easy to drink.


Ancient Mountain Signature Brew
 Ancient Mountain – great warm on winter days!  Signature Brew – dry, simple & smooth. A good session sake!


Tengu Sake has two fabulous futsushu in its range. Signature Brew enjoys a nose of banana and melon (quite unusual for a futsushu) followed by the more expected cereal, rice and caramel flavours. It is dry, rich and smooth; highly drinkable!
Ancient Mountain is a wonderfully warming sake, good for those cold winter days! It has notes of sweet cereal, soy and mushrooms on the nose and then smooth & creamy rice flavours that melt in the mouth. Both are fantastic everyday sake that never fail to make you smile!


If there was any type of sake that best suits being heated, futsushu is it. If well made the flavours will open up, mellow and harmonise resulting in a sake that is an absolute joy to drink. That’s not to say that futsushu cannot be enjoyed at room temperature too; however, generally speaking, you might mute the flavour and thereby be missing out if you drank it any colder.

Both Signature Brew and Ancient Mountain can be enjoyed from room temperature all the way up to 50-55°C.


As futsushu has quite a robust flavour profile it is wise to pair it with foods that have fuller flavours. Both of Tengu Sake’s futsushu have sweet notes to their flavours and so pair well with sweeter sauces: BBQ ribs, yakitori, etc. Rice and mushroom notes can find friendly foods too – a mushroom risotto pairs especially well with Ancient Mountain.

Guide to Junmai & Honjozo sake

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Browse junmai & honjozo in our sake shop.

Junmai & Honjozo sakes are generally made with rice polished to remove at least 30% of the outer layer of the grain (reminder of sake classifications) although junmai can be less polished. They account for about 18% of all sake produced, and tend to have a richer and fuller flavour profile than ginjo sake. They are also more tolerant of being heated and therefore, generally, can be enjoyed across a wider temperature range.


Junmai sake is usually full of character and has rich, earthy and umami flavours in abundance. The body tends to be bit heavier and fuller than other types, and the acidity is generally more pronounced. Unlike the more refined ginjo classes, one thing you tend not to get is a big, floral/fruity bouquet; rather, earthy notes that highlight the flavours and qualities of the rice are the norm.

Due to the addition of a little bit of brewers alcohol, honjozo sake is usually smoother, lighter and dryer with a more pronounced bouquet and less ricey elements than junmai.

Both types are designed for easy drinking and are wonderful when enjoyed at a leisurely pace over a long evening, either with or without food and are delicious over a range of temperatures.


Rocky Mountain Misty Mountain Special Red Dragon Waning Moon Black Samurai
 Rocky Mountain – rustic, raw & earthy  Misty Mountain – cloudy, zesty & exciting  Special Red Dragon – eweet rice & bamboo notes  Waning Moon – easy drinking with good umami  Black Samurai – rich with buckets of umami


Heavenly Brew Heavenly Brew Sky Conqueror
 Autumn Leaves – warming with caramel & creamed rice Heavenly Brew – smooth, crisp & bone dry Sky Conqueror – peppery, zesty & dry; versatile


One of the joys of drinking junmai and honjozo is the ability to enjoy these fabulously drinkable sake at a variety of temperatures. Experimenting by trying to find the various ‘sweet spots’ is half the fun! Tengu Sake always provides recommendations with each sake. The junmai Morning Dew, for example is smooth and mellow at 40-45°C but dry and crisp straight from the fridge.


Both junmai & honjozo are gifted all-rounders. They are great session tipples: great for sharing with friends or relaxing at the end of the day. They also pair fabulously with a good range of foods. The richness and high umami content of junmai makes them particularly good with slow-cooked foods such as roasts or stews or with other textured and umami-rich dishes like cured meats, tomato dishes, cheeses, etc. (please see our page on food pairing to discover more).  A sake with a lot of umami and a particularly rich, deep flavour is Rocky Mountain, which works perfectly with blue cheese, for example.

Honjozo, being lighter, tends to pair with flavours that are not as rich and thick and it can be a great match with Chinese or Thai food that has a little bit of a kick. Sky Conqueror from Hayashi Honten is a good example as its peppery and zesty qualities match well. On the other hand Yamatogawa’s Autumn Leaves is richer, creamy and textured so works well with patés and other richer meat dishes.  Honjozo sakes are also, generally, a good match with sushi.

Christmas Show!

Posted on Monday, November 18th, 2013


Come and enjoy our Christmas Show! We’ve got together a group of like-minded individuals to put on a fantastic show. Fabulous jewellery, beautifully bound books, stunning dresses and, of course, delicious sake! Pop in any time between 11am and 9pm for a glass of sake/wine and perhaps you’ll find that perfect gift!

Three of our sake will be available to buy with up to 15% off:

  • Golden Amber (£65 reduced to £55.25)!
  • Velvet Mist (£58 reduced to £49)!
  • Rare Brew (£38 reduced to £32.50)!

Gift wrapping available, hope to see you there!

Order any sake in advance and collect on the day (no shipping charge!)
If you would like any other sake from our website you can order in advance, have it delivered to our show and then collect it on either the 4th or the 5th December. If you would like to order any sake for collection, please email orders@tengusake.com with your request. Gift wrapping available at an additional £5 per bottle.

Deadline for collection orders is Monday 2nd December

Win a bottle of Golden Amber!

Posted on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013


We’re currently running a competition in ‘at home’ magazine for a lucky reader to win a bottle of our superb, 12-year aged sake – Golden Amber.

Golden Amber was voted “best sake for a gift” in 2012 and received a Silver Medal at the prestigious International Wine Challenge in 2013. The sake comes in a presentation gift box.

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning head on over to ‘at home’ mag’s website and enter the competition!

Hokusai Exposed – exhibition & sake bar!

Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013


There’s a new exhibition in London’s east end that sounds very interesting. From the blurb:

‘Visitors to Hokusai Exposed will be immersed in the works of the great Japanese Master, Katsushika Hokusai, “re-created” using state-of the-art digital technology, as well as the vibrant 3D streets and pleasure districts of Edo, 18th century Tokyo. The world of ukiyo-e style woodblock prints will be brought to life in a unique event which engages all the senses and is the first showcase of the “re-create” concept outside of Japan.’

There’s also a Hokusai Exposed sake bar (3-6pm Sun-Th/3-9pm F-Sat) featuring three of Tengu Sake’s selections. A glass starts at £2 and it’s a great way to enjoy what looks to be a very cool re-imagining of Hokusai’s works (he’s the guy who did the Great Wave, amongst other famous prints).

  • Saturday 26 October – Sunday 17 November 2013 at The Old Truman Brewery
  • Ticket price: 18 years+ £5.00 / 12-17 years £3.00 / 11 years and below, free entry

Check out www.hokusaiexposed.com

NB – I’ve now been to this exhibition and it’s well worth a visit. They have some stunning recreations of Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mt Fuji” – a series of classic prints. Some people have suggested that digitally printing these works of art de-values them. The Guardian, in particular, seem to have got a bee in their bonnet about this one saying, “Decay is part of the life of art. Of course we can’t see Jackson Pollock’s Lavender Mist, or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or Hokusai’s Great Wave, as they looked the day they were made – but why would we want to?”

Unfortunately they seemed to have missed the point; if there’s any medium that this technique is suited to it’s woodblock printing. An artist’s carving might be printed any number of times by different printers using different inks. There is no ‘definitive’ version of a print (some are more famous than others, though) so it seems to me a perfectly valid expression of the work. New printing techniques, different result. Different but not invalid.

Anyway, go check it out for yourself!

Event: Taste of Sake 01/10/13

Posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013


Book by clicking the image above


Read more…

15% discount on sake & ramen!

Posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013


Event review: Launch of Tengu Sake specials menu at Tonkotsu Ramen

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013

On 28th August Tonkotsu Bar and Ramen on Dean St, London launched their sake specials menu with sake supplied exclusively by Tengu Sake. I went along to deliver training to eager staff members and then help out for a few hours whilst the new menu settled in. Read more…

Special Tengu Sake menu at Tonkotsu Ramen

Posted on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Special sake menu from Thursday 22nd August

Tengu Sake has teamed up with Tonkotsu Ramen on Dean Street, Soho, London to bring you an exclusive sake specials menu. The menu runs from 22nd but I’ll be at Tonkotsu on the day so pop on in and say hi!

Read more…

Sake Tasting & ‘science of sake’ talk at London’s Science Museum

Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2013

I’ve been invited back to the Science Museum in South Kensington for a Food & Drink event they’re holding as part of their Lates series in the evening of 28/08/13. Entry is free and you’ll be able to try three different sake. Further details on my Events Page.

Everyone welcome, please come along!

Event Review: Sake Pop #2

Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

27/07/13 – Sake Pop #2

Last Saturday evening I had the pleasure of doing what I love: talking to and engaging people with sake at the second “Sake Pop” event. Sake Pop is a pop-up sake and Japanese food event, the brainchild of Japanese chef extraordinaire, Tom Dean. Tom is from a sake brewing family – his cousins own and run Tsuji Honten brewery in Okayama, Japan (one of the breweries I represent in UK). Having visited Katsuyama in Okayama where Tsuji Honten brews and, having met the Japan-based part of the family, I felt privileged to be able to join the UK-arm and support this great event.

Read more…

Tengu Sake website now launched!

Posted on Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce the launch of the new Tengu Sake website.

  • Order online and have premium sake delivered straight to your door!
  • 25 sake to choose from!
  • Easy to understand, easy to navigate website!
  • Unique pictogram system helps you see at-a-glance the characteristics of the sake!
  • Free delivery on orders of 6 bottles or more!
  • Next day delivery to the London area if ordered before midday!
  • 15% discount and free delivery on our summery namazake selection!

Order now at tengusake.com

Upcoming event: Sakepop#2 27/07/13

Posted on Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A pop up sake event in Brick Lane, London on Saturday 27th July 2013. Tickets selling fast (only 5 left!)

Details on the events page.

Tengu Sake’s success at IWC 2013!

Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013


In April of every year the International Wine Challenge judges thousands of wines and hundreds of sake. This year attracted 583 entries into the sake category making it, by far, the largest sake competition outside of Japan and the most internationally renowned. 2013 is our first year of entering the competition (hell, it’s the first year we’ve had any sake!)

Tengu Sake entered 10 sake and won 9 awards!

Read more…