While I was last at Uwajimaya to pick up some sake I noticed a couple of cartons of sake; two different brands. I recalled reading a piece by John Gauntner on boxed sake and thought this might be a good thing to look into and post my thoughts and findings. So, I picked up a carton of Hakutsuru Junmai, 1.8L for US $15. I looked for but did not see the same sake in a bottle for comparison.
The carton was completely enclosed in a plastic wrap. It has a plastic spout with a screw on lid and inner seal that needs to be pulled out. This is very similar to the cartons some milk comes in. However, in the case of milk, the spout is larger in diameter. My first impression is that the narrower spout should be a little easier to pour but that was before I tried to pull out the inner seal. The narrow spout is too narrow for me to get my finger into the pull loop and the pull loop is sharp and formed in such a way to force you to pull against the sharp edge to pull it out. A wider pull loop would allow for easy and comfortable pull but not this one; maybe smaller fingers.
Once opened, I poured some into a glass, very clear, crystal clear with a fine aroma and nice taste. This junmai is 15% ABV and +4 SMV. I’m looking for hints of this sake having been in a carton. I don’t notice anything off or suggestive of the carton in the aroma or taste. I do get honeydew melon and cantaloupe but not carton. As it warms up the aroma also opens and it is very fragrant.
So, at least for me, it seems that there are no off flavors or aromas from the carton. And, seeing how the carton will protect the sake from damaging light this seems like a good way to go. I don’t know how well it will keep over long periods, though.