5

I found a bottle of sake in my grandfathers basement.

Picture of the sake box I found

As there are no Latin characters indicating the age of the bottle (and I don't speak Japanese), I used google Translator and found the following on a card which I assume can be sent back to the manufacturer to give feedback.

差出有効期間昭和45年12月14日迄(切手はいりません)

which is translated to:

Sent validity period Until December 14, 1970 (stamps are not required)

So I guess it must be produced somewhere around 1970

Does sake age well?

Can I sell the bottle, as in: is it worth anything due to its age?

How do I know if I can still drink it safely?

7

Due its high alcohol content, you will still be able to drink the sake without worrying about your health.

However, the recommended consumption period is usually one year after bottling. After that, the maker cannot guarantee the flavor of the sake. Whatever the flavor of your sake is right now, whether it aged well or went plain ugly, is not the flavor of the sake as advertised by the sake maker. Oh, and if the bottle is open, like wine, sake will oxidize rapidly.

Sake may or may not age well, depending on the sake. I don't have enough knowledge to say what those differences are, though from my experience, old sake can become either a tad acidic or more rich in its original flavor.

You may be able to sell the bottle so someone interested, but I don't think there is a giant market for it outside of Japan (though I may be wrong about that). In Japan, there would be plenty demand for old sake there.

By law, there should be a date on the bottle (not sure if they print that on the box) which indicates the "month of bottling". Although, that law may not have existed 50 years back...

Note there is a chance it will go bad in the case it is nama (fresh) sake, which you can tell if you see 生 somewhere on the label. Nama sake is sake that does not undergo the two pasteurization processes after being made, so the yeast is still alive. Taste guarantee is only about a half a year, and something 50 years old will probably taste yogurty or cheesy.

  • thanks. short follow-up: How much is "plenty demand" does it make sense to try look into that? I just don't want to unknowingly drink a bottle of sake that somebody else would want to pay 3 figures for… – Niklas Jan 12 '18 at 17:54
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    @Niklas Hrm... Unfortunately I am not familiar with the vintage liquor market there to say with confidence that it'd be worth your effort to sell and ship over. I think it's like wine, where just one bottle isn't enough to get people interested. Like I mentioned in the answer, the expected flavor changes, so it's a gamble for anyone opening it. Personally, I would just enjoy it with a good meal, and if I didn't like it, reuse as cooking sake. – Jimmy Jan 12 '18 at 22:45
  • Sorry, yes, the Doooog is back! Just about to shoot off and adjust my doooginess to 5.0.0 – dougal 5.0.0 Jan 16 '18 at 15:28

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