Masa Shiroki makes two things perfectly clear. Sake is not distilled alcohol and it is not similar to beer. “It is produced by fermentation. It is rice wine.” Shiroki, who lectures on sake for International Sommelier Guild courses, should know. In January 2007, the Japanese-born entrepreneur opened Canada’s first sake “winery”: Artisan SakeMaker on Vancouver’s Granville Island, where the sake is fermented from top-of-the-line Japanese Junmai rice and pressed and bottled by hand. It is also unfiltered and free of preservatives, for a beverage with delicate fruit-like aromas and flavours much different from the cruder California sakes dominating the B.C. market. – Kerry Banks
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