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Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 07:16
My great grandfather recently passed away, and in his home we found an unopened sake jug stored in his attic. We translated the label and found out that it was from Zuisen Distillery in Okinawa. The bottle old, dusty, and is in a cardboard box from the distillery. It's certainly from the 1940's as my great grandma has explained.
The jug is some sort of clay and is 1,800ml with a straw cap, and the seal has never been opened. Is it safe to ever consume? If not, would it be worth anything? Either way, it's a nice piece of history that we enjoy having!

Thank you!
by Sage (guest)  

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 10:18
I don't know anything about the item in question so maybe someone else will be able to tell you about it, but if not, the vintage alcohol trade is large in Western Europe and North America. If you don't have any specialist dealers locally that you know of, contact an auction house that deals in that kind of thing (many do) and try to get them to put you in touch with an expert. Alternatively, try Reddit. If you posted details and a picture to r/liquor or r/sake then there is a good chance of finding someone who might be able to help.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 10:23
Also I wouldn't recommend drinking it. I'll stand to be corrected but my understanding is that sake doesn't age anything like wine and that the best time to drink it is within a couple of years of production. It is highly likely that it will taste bad. If I had a bottle of sake that old and it wasn't worth money I would honestly just throw it away.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 11:00
Why not ask the distillery yourself? It might also help if you can send them a photo of the label. If it's an awamori, the aged the better.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 13:09
In case you're searching for information online, it might help to know that what you have a bottle of is awamori, not sake. Unlike sake, awamori can get better with age, although I have no idea if that extends to sixty or seventy years. It's also not a given that you'll enjoy drinking awamori, and it might be hard to tell if it's because the bottle has gone off, or you just don't like awamori.

One thing you can do is buy a nice bottle of premium sake from an online retailer, open it up, and drink it in celebration of your great-grandfather's life. (Once you open a bottle of fresh sake, try to finish it up within a few weeks.)
by Umami Dearest rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/4 15:37
While I'm aware that the English word "sake" represents what we Japanese call "nihon-shu", the word "sake" in Japanese language means "alcoholic beverage" in general. A vintage awamori, so-called "koshu", literally written as "old sake", can be anywhere from 5 to 150 years old.

The following website I happened to find tells us that there used to be koshu as old as 200 years old, but most were lost during WW2.

If it is indeed an awamori, do take good care of it. Again, I'm sure the distillery would be happy to know that you own one, even if it's only 76 years old.

by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/5 00:59
Oh my thank you all! This is all very helpful and I had no idea this was actually called kusu. I will try to email the distillery thanking them and send them pictures!
by Sage (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/5 07:25
The value, if any, will be in the clay jug/bottle - 1.8 liter is the standard bottle size.
As for the contents - throw it away. Sake does not age well and beyond around 12 months, it will usually be undrinkable. It is not like some wines that get better with age.
I learned this an expensive way buying some sake as a present for someone overseas - cost me $100, but I didn't see that it had been sitting in the shop for three years. Poured it down the sink.
(I did see there was a niche brewery in Japan trying to start up a style that could be cellared for a couple of years, but again, it is not like wine.)
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/5 14:53

Please read my previous post. Sake (nihonshu) does not typically come in a "jug" to begin with. If it's a vintage awamori ("koshu"), which typically comes in a jug, it's supposed to age, and would be extremely valuable. No one can tell what the contents are unless we see the label. Please don't encourage it to be wasted.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Unopened Sake WWII 2021/3/7 06:45
Oh my that sounds like a relic! Wish I had one! So don't waste it nor throw it away. Treasure it, and send some pics/info to the distillery! I hope that you can share the response of the distillery with us, how exciting ;)
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

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