Articles - How to Make Sake

How to make SAKE!

by Mr. Levitz

These directions are on how to make Doburoku. Doburoku is the moonshine of Sakes; no one seems to have a literal translation of it, but I believe it has something to do with muddy water. Doburoku looks like Nigori which is a cloudy Sake available in some Japanese Groceries.


5 cups (2.5 lb/1.1 kg) Short grain rice

3.75 qts. (15 cups/3.5 liters) Water

20 oz. (454 grams) Koji (available at Mitsuwa)

1 Packet Bread yeast or Red Star wine yeast (Sake yeast is very hard to get)


Rice cooker, five-gallon bucket with lid with a hole in it, straining cloth, and a floating thermometer (helpful). Bucket and thermometer available from home brew stores.

How to cook rice:

Rice cookers are the way to go, especially when you need to make a lot of rice. You wash rice 3 times in cold water until no more white comes off. Put rice in rice cooker, cover with enough water so that when you press lightly with your palm on top of the rice, the water just barely covers your top 2 knuckles. Sometimes rice cookers have lines to follow (how much rice and how much water). It takes a little experimentation to make the rice come out just right. Put on the lid, press button down, when the rice is done the button will pop up. Do not lift the lid while cooking or you have to stand on one foot while reciting a haiku during a full moon. When you are finished cooking the rice, smell it Ė it is a joy!

Minimal directions for making sake:

Cook rice in a rice cooker. Put a dime-sized dab of yeast with half as much brown sugar and about as much warm water. Mix and keep warm for about 20 minutes until rising. When the rice is finished cooking, put into 5-gallon bucket. Add water, mix/kneading with your hands thoroughly, add koji and continue to mix until temperature reaches 80F/26C. Then add the bubbly yeast and mix. Store in cool, dark place for about 10-14 days, stirring once in a while. Strain and drink. If you want to bottle it, donít cap the bottles, because it is still fermenting. Finished product needs to be refrigerated. Shake and drink.

Additional possibilities:

If you are frightened of drinking this stuff, you can pasteurize it. Place your storage jug in a hot water bath with a thermometer sticking in the neck, and heat until 140F/60C. This will stop the fermenting and kill most things. You can put nice labels on your bottles and give them to your friends, but you canít make them drink it. To be fancier you should let the rice and Koji soak separately for about 18 hours in cold water before cooking. You can also add the yeast the day after the Koji is put in and let the fermentation continue as long as 15-20 days. Remember, though, that this is Doburoku, not fancy sake.

To learn more about making sake, I recommend SAKE (U.S.A.) by Fred Eckhardt. The recipe Iím using is one of the ones he mentions. It happens to come from a Budo manís wife. You have to like that.

To learn more about drinking sake, I recommend SAKE, A DRINKERíS GUIDE by Hiroshi Kondo, and some moderate practice.

Warning: Home Brewing is illegal in Japan.

- Mr. Levitz