Does sake get better with age?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does sake get better with age” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not sake gets better with age. Moreover, we are going to discuss the alcoholic content of sake and the ways to spot bad sake.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Does sake get better with age?

There are some varieties of sake that are “aged” for a certain time before their release but that does not mean that all the varieties of sake are meant to be “aged”. Most of the varieties of sake have to be consumed fresh and once opened it is recommended to consume sake within a week.

Now when it comes to whether or not the aged sake has a better flavor than the fresh sake, the answer is “it depends upon your taste preference”.  The aged sake “koshu” is sometimes aged for more than 3 years and people find its flavor to be earthy, nutty, with a dash of grains and a hint of honey and deep-fruit tones. 

But as there is no hard and fast rule regarding the aging time and the temperature so different “aged sakes” will have different taste profiles.

You can read more about the aged sake here.

What is sake?

The Japanese wine, sake, is made from fermented rice and is quite popular especially in Japanese households and restaurants. It is not a carbonated or a distilled beverage. Moreover, no sulfur-based preservative is added to the sake. While talking about the flavor profile of the sake it has some similarities with the wine but it is unique in its own way. 

What is the alcoholic content of the sake?

Sake contains about 15 to 17% of alcohol in its formulation.

How long does it take to brew sake?

So it takes about a month to brew the sake. Moreover, most of the sakes are also “aged” for about 6 months before their release.

How should sake be stored?

Unopened sake bottles can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat.

You should always store the sake at 40 °F or below as the process of maturation of sake is faster in the warm/hot temperature as compared to the cold temperature. Therefore it is advised to refrigerate sake for preserving its quality and flavor for a long time. It is recommended to wrap a newspaper around your sake bottle and store it in the fridge. Moreover, when it comes to unpasteurized sake, it should always be stored in the fridge. The opened sake should be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container or bottle.

It is better to store the sake on one of the shelves of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge.

What are the factors that impact the shelf life of sake?

Several factors have an impact on the shelf life of sake.

  1. The temperature at which the sake is stored
  2. Pasteurized or unpasteurized sake

How long does the sake last?

The opened sake lasts for about 1 week in the fridge at or below 40 °F. But we recommend you to consume the sake in the first 3 days to enjoy its peak taste and quality. 

The unopened sake bottle lasts for about 12 months if kept in a cold, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. Moreover, if the unopened sake bottle is refrigerated then it lasts for about 2 years from the “bottling date”.  

The unpasteurized sake has a shorter shelf life as compared to the pasteurized sake and it is advised to store it in the fridge. The unopened bottle of sake lasts for about 6 months when stored in the refrigerator at or below 40 °F.

Why are sake bottles colored?

The sake is stored in green or brown colored bottles to protect it from the harmful effects of the UV radiation present in the sunlight.

Moreover, care should be taken as moisture, air and sunlight are the enemies of the freshness and quality of the sake.

How to tell if sake is bad?

  1. If you see particles floating in your bottle of sake or if there are some particles present in the bottom of the sake bottle, then it is the indication that your sake has gone bad. 
  2. In normal conditions, the fresh sake is transparent but if you see hues of yellow in it, then it means that the sake has gone bad due to the oxidation reaction taking place in it.
  3. If you notice a pungent, rotten, or any other odd smell while taking a sniff test then it is an indication of a bad sake and you should get rid of it.
  4. Take a small sip of the sake and if you feel any off-flavor or something that does not quite taste like the sake itself then it means that your sake has gone bad. 


In this brief guide, we answered the question “does sake get better with age” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not sake gets better with age. Moreover, we discussed the alcoholic content of sake and the ways to spot bad sake.


Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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