8 Best Japanese Sake for Chinese New Year!

It’s that time of year again: Chinese New Year. With all the red and dragons ringing in closer, everyone is gearing up with preparation for one of the biggest celebrations. And what better way than to celebrate with a little bit of booze? Last year, we wrapped up a nice list of wines that would compliment Chinese New Year dishes, but this year, we’ve got something better— a list of the BEST sake and shochu, be it for your dinner or as part of your CNY gift to family and friends.

1. Hakutsuru Junmai Daiginjo Ukiyoe
Fashioned from rice meticulously polished to at least 50%, often even more, this Junmai Daiginjo is a pure creation – composed solely of rice, water, koji, and yeast. It's the epitome of ultra-premium sake, perfect for your Chinese New Year dinner.

With a luminous bouquet of strawberry, raspberry, honeydew, fuji apple, and delicate hints of licorice, this sake is a sensory delight. It dances on your palate, layering flavours of melon, banana, mandarin orange, honeydew, bartlett pears, and cherry. Its velvety mouthfeel gives way to a crisp, lingering finish, making it a perfect pair for buttermilk chicken (or prawns), honey-glazed ham (or bak kwa), and roast beef hash.

Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/ricemarketdc/p/CwmJ1imuXHl/?ref=meowaround&hl=hi 

2. Kirin Raichichu
This lychee liqueur is a taste sensation, defined by the inclusion of crushed lychee, pure 100% lychee juice, and a delightful blend with Japanese sake. It unveils a distinct and invigorating lychee aroma, beautifully complemented by subtle notes of rice from the sake. 

And as we know, lychee is sweet, light, floral and has hints of crisp, tropical and citrus notes. This goes amazingly well with staple CNY dishes like: Yee Sang or Tomyam Steamed Fish (or any steamed fish with a hint of 🌶️). 

3. Satsuma Kannoko (Barley Shochu)
And easy love at first sight, this premium Shochu is made from 100% select barley. Kannoko, which means 'river protected by the gods' in Kagoshima dialect, is named after a stream in South Kagoshima. Kannoko has rich and mellow flavour with fragrant aroma that pairs beautifully with any chicken of your choice (we suggest a nice golden roasted chicken) or stir-fried celery. 

4. Hakutsuru Umeshu Genshu Binzume
This one is a winner of Monde Selection Awards for achieving a level of high quality over 3 consecutive years. This plum sake (umeshu) is made from 100% Kishu plums with no added water or chemicals for a clean, undiluted taste. It has a good balance between sweet and acidity with a full body texture. Umeshu can be served in many ways- If you are serving this straight, we suggest that you pair it with a nice plate of roast beef, or pork and if you are serving this with ice (on the rocks), pair it with a light appetiser, like dumplings, spring rolls or fried wonton. 

5. Iseman Half Moon - Umeshiso
The Half Moon series by Iseman is a refined liquor meticulously crafted from carefully selected, high-quality ingredients reminiscent of those traditionally employed in Japanese kitchens over the years. This Umeshiso with its real plum finish, blended with a refreshing and not overly sweet red perilla extract, offers a delightful taste experience. 

Just imagine yourself indulging in its natural red hues, relishing the enticing scents of basil and plum, enhanced by a subtle acidity. Enriched with polyphenols, the red shiso contributes a gentle, pleasing touch and sourced from natural red perilla, this umeshu is a delectable choice, whether enjoyed on the rocks (pair it with traditional Chinese appetisers) or as a perfect accompaniment to exceptional cuisine (roasted beef or pork).

6. Yatsushika Shuzo Kabosu
Having Chinese New Year dinner at home instead and looking to wow your friends and families with your own cocktails? Then yes, Yatsushika Shuzo Kabosu is your best friend. The kabosu fruit (not to be mistaken as yuzu) grows predominantly in Oita Prefecture, where the Kabuso liqueur by Yatsushika Shuzo is produced. This liqueur has a light green-golden colour and a pleasant citrus note on the nose, reminiscent of a mixture of lemon and lime. The slightly herbal base, on the other hand, makes you think a little of lemongrass. 

Just mix it with soda or water, and serve it for dinner (or lunch) with Lor Bak, Crispy Roast Pork (Siew Yoke) or even Kam Heong Crab!

7. Hakutsuru Nigori Yuzushu
Being awarded as Gold Award in Monde Selection for 6 consecutive years from 2011 to 2016, Hakutsuru Marugoto Shibori Nigori Yuzushu has been famous for its high quality and excellent flavour of yuzu. It does not contain any artificial additives nor pigment, allowing one to enjoy an authentic, rich taste of Japanese yuzu. 

This bottle offers refreshing as well as sweet flavour, it can be served with fried food items, skewers, or sour food. Yes, we are thinking of it too- Lok Lok!

8. Iseman Half Moon - Yuzu
The Half Moon series by Iseman is a refined liquor meticulously crafted from carefully selected, high-quality ingredients reminiscent of those traditionally employed in Japanese kitchens over the years. 

“Half Moon” Yuzu is a fortress of 20% alcohol and refreshing shades of citrus fruits, one of a kind in taste and aroma. It is made by distilling barley sake and natural juice, offering a fresh citrus flavour, juicy acidity and a glass of yam seng that is perfect for any Chinese New Year dinner, whether served cold, warm, part of a cocktail or just on the rocks.