No appropriate European name exists for this favourite intoxicant. Both "rice-beer" and "rice-brandy," by which the word has sometimes been translated, give a false idea of the thing. Sake is obtained from fermented rice by a complicated process, which can only be carried out during the winter, and it contains from eleven to fourteen per cent of alcohol. Curiously enough, European heads seem to be affected by it much less easily than the Japanese themselves are; but it is unwise to indulge in sake and wine at the same repast. A very strong variety called shōchū, which is distilled from the dregs, contains from twenty to fifty per cent of alcohol. Another kind, called mirin, is more of a liqueur.
Book recommended - The Chemistry of Sake-brewing, published as one of the "Memoirs of the Science Department of the Imperial University."