Kanzake (warmed sake) (燗酒)

Kanzake is warmed alcoholic beverage. Further, the action to warm alcoholic beverage itself is expressed as kan wo tsukeru (to warm up sake), okan suru (to warm sake), and so on.
However, adding hot water to raise the temperature of sake does not mean warming sake, and in that case, it is distinguished by calling it 'oyuwari.'
Basically, when warming sake, no water is added (including hot water).
(refer to article 'Present situation of warming up sake (shochu)' for the case in which water is added.)

Normally, sake is warmed up when Japanese sake or part of Chinese sake are consumed. Warmed Japanese sake is called kanzake, too, but Japanese sake is not the only alcoholic beverage which is warmed up. However, basically, kan is done only to brewage.
(refer to article 'Shochu and warming up sake' for the case of warming distilled spirits.)
Further, warming sake is rare during hot season, but often done during cold season. Although warming sake has been done in Japan and China from old times to present days, if seen globally, it is an unique action. On the other hand, mixing hot water to alcoholic beverages is common in the world.

Further, sometimes wine is warmed, too, but it is less frequently done compared to Japanese sake and Chinese alcoholic beverage, and as for wine, it is rather treated as a cocktail.
(for details, refer to the article 'Warming wine')

Warming Japanese sake

When warming sake, water is not added. Also, basically, spice, sugar, and so on are not added. Warming Japanese sake is rare during hot season, but often done during cold season.
Essentially, kan is not done to Ginjoshu (high-quality sake brewed at low temperatures from rice grains milled to 60 % weight or less) even though it is a kind of Japanese sake, but some people lightly put on kan to it because 'hidden fragrance appears.'

Problem of sake with distilled alcohol added

Warming Japanese sake has been done from old times. Warming sake is a rare action in the world, however, to warm brewage is not rare compared with the case of distilled alcoholic beverage such as shochu. For example, people used to enjoy warm Chinese Huangjiu (yellow wine) from the old times.
(for details, refer to article 'Warming Chinese alcoholic beverage.')

However, nowadays, there are many cases of Japanese sake added distilled alcohol in the name of 'brewage alcohol,' and some point out that the Japanese sake in that case (so-called 'alcohol-added sake') could not be called as brewage.

However, adding of distilled alcohol was not done popularly in old times.

It became popular after the World War II.

Brewing Japanese sake has begun before World War II, and so has warming sake. Consequently, the Japanese sake as object to be warmed is basically not the sake with distilled alcohol added.
(They have not warmed sake with distilled alcohol added.)

Therefore, in this article "Warming Japanese sake" if there is no special explanation, description is made with Japanese sake without distilled alcohol added as a subject (in other words, sake with distilled alcohol is not included as a subject), and the description will advance by treating Japanese sake as a kind of brewage. The problem whether Japanese sake with distilled alcohol added is a brewage or not is put aside for right now. Description is not made for Ginjoshu, either, which is a kind of sake with distilled alcohol added.


They used to warm sake with a pan or sake decanter over direct heat, but in the Bunka era, copper or tin made chirori (a metal container for heating sake) was used. In the Tempo era, chirori was used in the Kinai area, but kantokkuri/kandokuri (bottle for warming sake) became popular in Edo. A brazier encased in a wooden box came to equip a corner to pour water and place the kandokuri in it.

In the Meiji period, kandokuri was commonly used, and rarely, chirori and hatodokkuri (a kind of tokkuri bottle) were used. Later in bars, the sake warmer dispenser was used. Water is boiled in this equipment, sake is poured in a tube that goes through this equipment, and if the stopper cock at the bottom is opened, warmed sake will pour out.

Nowadays, to warm sake at home, it is recommended to place the sake bottle in the hot water rather than to microwave.

Temperature expressions for warm Japanese sake

On warmed sake, delicate expressions for temperatures are used.

In following part, descriptions of article about Japanese sake is reprinted as general expressions for temperatures. In addition, the drinking temperature described is only a guide, and the temperature imagined from each expression depends on the drinker. Further, the ways to express temperature has not been integrated yet.

Other than these expressions, there are various expressions such as calling temperature of sake higher than that of tobikiri kan (very hot) as 'nizake' (boiled sake).


In the following, we describe the terms related with warming sake, excerpted from the article of Japanese sake.

Kanbae suru'

Japanese sake which tastes dramatically better when warmed up.

Kanagari suru'

A condition in which warming sake has derived its taste.

Aji ga hiraku'

A condition in which Japanese sake's taste which could not have been sensed at cold condition became apparent when warmed up.

Kaori ga hiraku'

A condition in which Japanese sake's fragrance which could not have been sensed at cold condition became apparent when warmed up.

Kanzamashi ni naru'

A condition in which the Japanese sake once warmed but became cold again.


A condition in which kanzamashi has broken the flavor balance of Japanese sake.

(Meanwhile, Kanzamashi does not always result in Kankuzure.)

Hiyayoshi, kanyoshi, kanzameyoshi'

No matter whether it is chilled, warmed or warmed then cooled down, Japanese sake tastes good. It means that heavy drinkers love Japanese sake in any condition.

Historical change

According to "Teijun kojitu kikigaki jojo," warming sake is good from September 9 through March 2.

Ingredient for cocktail

For examples in which warmed Japanese sake is used for ingredient of cocktail, there are Orange Sakini and tamagozake (egg sake).
However, Orange Sakini and tamagozake are classified into cocktail, not.warmed sake

Warming Chinese alcoholic beverages

Chinese brewage (Huangjiu) called Shaoxing rice wine is sometimes warmed up, too, when consumed. Like in Japanese sake, warming Shaoxing rice wine is rare during hot season, but often done during cold season. Also, no spice, sugar or water is basically added.


Like warming Japanese sake, warming Huangjiu such as Shaoxing rice wine has been done from old times.

Warming shochu

Like in Japanese sake, warming Shaoxing rice wine is rare during hot season, but often done during cold season. Also, no spice or sugar is basically added. However, not like in Japanese sake, water is sometimes added.

Particularity of warming sake

As mentioned above, warming sake is an action to warm up alcoholic beverage itself. Normally, it is an action for Japanese sake and part of Chinese alcoholic beverages. The difference between oyuwari is that it raise up the temperature of alcoholic beverage without adding hot water. Warming sake itself is a unique way to drink alcoholic beverage if seen globally.

Particularity of warming distilled alcoholic beverage

Shochu, unlike Japanese sake, is a distilled alcoholic beverage. Warming not brewage but distilled alcoholic beverage is very unique, if seen globally. That is to say, warming distilled alcoholic beverage is more unique way to drink than warming brewage. It can be said that warming shochu is very special way to drink alcoholic beverage.


At one time in Japan, it was common to warm shochu as a way to drink alcoholic beverage. For example in Hyuga Province, people used to enjoy warmed shochu by placing a vessel unglazed or made of tin called 'Hyuga chirori' into irori fireplace (open hearth). Also in Kagoshima Prefecture, they sometimes had warmed shochu.
(They take warmed shochu infrequently even in present days.)

There is even a theory which states that the way of drinking warmed shochu may have originated from the way of drinking warmed Japanese sake. In other words, since shochu appeared much later than Japanese sake, the way to drink Japanese sake was directly applied to shochu, too.

Current situation of warming shochu

Most of shochu which are warmed and drunk contain less alcohol. Meanwhile, shochu with high alcohol (especially those of more than 35%) are sometimes added water or hot water in order to lower its alcohol level then warmed up. However, it is common for shochu with high alcohol to be drunk by mixing with hot water, instead of being warmed. It is because mixing with hot water automatically raises up the temperature.

However, we have to be careful to the fact that only mixing hot water does not mean warming shochu. In other words, even if hot water is added to shochu and the temperature is raised, if there is not more heating in addition to that, it is not warming sake. You should not confuse warmed shochu with oyuwari.

Meanwhile, adding water (not hot water) one day or more prior to the drinking (not right before drinking) is called 'maewari' (pre-dilution). Maewari settles shochu and water, so once already-diluted shochu is warmed, it tastes mellower than oyuwari.

There is Satsuma ware called 'Kurojoka' as a Japanese sake related tool to warm shochu. If you are going to enjoy warmed 'Kurojoka,' maewari is recommended. On rare occasions, people use a microwave to warm Kurojoka. This way of drinking was common in Kagoshima Prefecture in 1980's.

Nowadays, they rarely enjoy the warm shochu. Even if it is the same kind of shochu with the ones that had been drunk by warming up back then, it is overwhelmingly common in present days for it to be drunk straight in room temperature, mixed with water, or mixed with hot water. Moreover, in an opposite manner to warm shochu, shochu refrigerated or cooled down by ice are drunk. In common situations, warmed shochu has not consumed any more.

Warming wine

In Europe, there is gluhwein (mulled wine) which is warmed red wine with spices (cinnamon and clove) and sugar added. Japanese sake, Chinese alcoholic beverage or shochu is warmed with nothing added, however, on the other hand, as warm gluhwein contains spices etc., it is classified into cocktail.


Like Kanban musume of FUKUMUSUME SAKE BREWERY CO.,LTD., some products can heat sake without using fire. They use an exothermic reaction caused by quicklime (calcium oxide) mixed up with water.

[Original Japanese]