The rise of premium alcohol over the last decade has engulfed whiskey, vodka, rum and other spirits. But sake hasn’t quite ridden the ‘premium’ wave just yet. But that may be changing. Example: The House of Gekkeikan has introduced Suzaku – a new premium sake.

For the uninitiated, sake is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. It is often called “rice wine” but the brewing process is more akin to beer, converting starch to sugar for the fermentation process. Sake generally has a higher alcohol content than wine or beer.

Suzaku, meaning “guardian of the South,” refers to the mythological Japanese name for the Vermillion bird and is the first-ever Junmai Ginjo-Shu or “Ginjo” to be introduced to Gekkeikan’s portfolio in the U.S.

Founded in 1637 by the Okura family, The House of Gekkeikan has produced some of the world’s finest sake for nearly 400 years and 14 generations. It is one of the oldest family-operated businesses in the world and one of the most respected names in sake. Gekkeikan means “Crown of Laurel,” a testament to the company’s commitment to excellence.

Over the centuries, Gekkeikan has refined its sake brewing techniques to combine culture and tradition with innovation, resulting in a comprehensive line of sakes that are ideal for food pairings and adaptable for various consumption methods. Gekkeikan Japan is located in the prestigious Fushimi region within the Kyoto Prefecture. Fushimi, meaning “hidden water,” refers to the pristine waters of the region, renowned for their softness and low mineral content, which produces smooth, well-rounded refined sakes that are lightly fragrant and extremely versatile.

Made from a combination of fresh spring water, yeast, koji and the finest rice, Suzaku is carefully fermented at a low temperature to produce its fine fruity aroma that includes delicate notes of pear, honeydew and pineapple. The taste is remarkably smooth on the palate with a creamy body that leads to a light fruit finish.

The House of Gekkeikan says that Suzaku complements an array of foods ranging from light fare dishes such as grilled white fish and seared scallops to rich flavored meats such as BBQ pork and beef ribs.

A bottle of Suzaku will cost you about $25. It is best enjoyed slightly chilled or at room temperature.