Understanding sake is like trying to understand Japanese culture, where ambiguity is inherently valued. In the sake world things are rarely black and white. There is an abundance of “grey areas” and vagary . Hence, the answers to most questions about sake begin with qualifying phrases such as “usually,” “traditionally most brewers...,” or our favorite, “well, that depends...”.
Another aspect about sake to keep in mind is that with any rules, methods, or even teachings about it, exceptions abound. The complexity of the brewing process compounded by the infinite number of variations on that process, and with the basic ingredients, allows for a limitless amount of experimentation that produces some exquisite brews, but often makes it difficult to put one’s finger on a particular reason why or how the end result has been achieved. One of the keys to the enjoyment of sake is to let go of the need for the concrete and revel in the beauty of the vague!