Unlike wine, sake is best consumed fresh. The freshest sake you could arguably get your hands on is namazake or unpasteurized sake. “Namazake is difficult to execute,” says Kerry Tamura, sake specialist at World Sake Imports. “It’s difficult because refrigeration is key. Any distributor [of sake] has to have a proper climate-controlled facility.”
World Sake Imports is the first importer of namazake and they’re able to transport namazake from Japan in a refrigerated container from the Japanese brewery’s doorstep to the client’s. It would be easier to try locally-made namazake such as Sequoia Sake in San Francisco, but Stateside brewers are still figuring out the logistics of refrigerated distribution. It would be better to try namazake right on the premises. “The whole point of namazake is to taste it when it’s freshly-pressed from the brewery,” says Tamura.
If you’re in San Francisco, you can try Sequoia Sake’s namazake during their regular tasting hours Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. If you’re not in the area, Tamura recommends stopping by one of these points on the map in Southern California to give Japanese namazake a try.