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Hon Mirin is one type of mirin, which has the best quality of all.
Hon mirin not only can be used as a condiment,but it is also delicious to drink as a liquor.

What is the difference between hon mirin and other mirin?
How to choose the genuine hon mirin?

We will discover thoroughly about hon mirin in this article, so please check it out!


What is Hon Mirin?

In our previous article that covers about mirin, we learned that there is one type of mirin called hon mirin, which could be used not only for condiment but also as liquor.

So what is hon mirin?

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Hon mirin (本みりん), or so called pure mirin or real mirin, is said to be the best quality Japanese sweet rice cooking wine (mirin).

The taste of hon mirin can be described to have a subtle sweetness like rice wine. It can give a gourmet taste if used as a cooking condiment.

It should only have 3 ingredients: glutinous rice, rice koji (malt), and shochu (Japanese distilled alcohol).

Hon mirin is characterized to have high alcohol content (around 14 percent) and 0 percent salt content. Thus it can be classified as a liquor.

Furthermore, hon mirin is produced without sugar. Mirin’s sweetness naturally formed during the saccharification process, with the help of rice koji’s enzyme. The enzymes of koji break down complex carbohydrates and proteins into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. Because of that, the quality of rice koji is becoming one of the secrets for making high-quality hon mirin.

Due to the saccharification and aging process, hon mirin will have a golden color with syrupy consistency. Hon mirin is properly aged for 3 months to 6 months (and sometimes longer).

If you want to learn more detail about ‘mirin’, make sure to check our article below!


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What is Mirin and What is the Good Substitute for Mirin?
When you visit a Japanese restaurant or read a Japanese cuisine recipe, sometimes you will notice that there is the word “mirin” in the dish.
So “What is mirin, anyways?” Here, we would like to learn more about mirin - discover the right mirin's substitute, types of mirin, how to use mirin, and tons of useful information about mirin in one article!
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Hon Mirin is Acknowledged by Chefs and Professional Cooks

If you ever visited an authentic, refined Japanese restaurant, you’ll notice that the chefs and food professionals will prefer to use a high quality mirin. In this case, it’s hon mirin.

Hon mirin that is manufactured in a traditional method, only using the best domestic ingredients from Japan, and undergo an aging process, is said to have the most authentic, mellow sweetness mirin could offer. If used as glazed for grilled dishes, hon mirin will boost a rich, lustrous coating.

Not only make a mouthwatering food appearance, but hon mirin can also make it more delicious.

We will later introduce some recommended hon mirin products used and acknowledged by Japanese Chefs.

Hon Mirin as Condiment


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Mirin is popular to use for making nimono (simmered dish), and many other Japanese cuisines.

As we know, mirin is familiar as an essential condiment for Japanese cuisine.

Every Japanese household will always stock a bottle of mirin because mirin's subtle sweetness is suitable for almost every dish. It is no exaggeration to say that mirin is an irreplaceable taste for Japanese cuisine.

If you are interested to add authentic Japanese taste in your cooking, consider mirin as a must-have condiment.

Hon Mirin as Liquor


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Mirin was originally meant for drinking around the Edo Period before replaced with sake.

Mirin as liquor was actually derived from its own history.

Mirin was originally meant for drinking as a high-end sweet liquor that even women could enjoy before being replaced with Japanese sake at the end of the Edo Period (the 1800s).

However, the taste of the mirin those days seemed not so sweet as today's mirin.
That is because there was no technique to create rice malt (rice koji), which become the reason behind the mirin's sweetness.

The traditionally made hon mirin can still be enjoyed as a liquor, even after mirin used as a condiment and few other types of mirin established.

You can find some bar or restaurant that serves hon mirin in Japan. For instance, a long-established bar in Kyoto serves hon mirin as a liquor to their customers.
Proofing that hon mirin also delicious to enjoy as a liquor even now.

The Commitment of Hon Mirin Brewer in Japan

As we know, hon mirin is subject to an alcohol tax because of its alcohol content.
While the other types of mirin such as aji mirin, mirin-fu chomiryo, mirin type seasoning, mirin style, and shio mirin are undrinkable and are not technically a liquor.

To be able to brew hon mirin, a mirin brewery must obtain a liquor license under the Japanese Liquor Tax Act.

There are many mirin brewers spread around Japan, but the Mikawa area of Aichi prefecture has the largest number of it. This place provides a suitable condition of water and climate to optimally produce mirin.

It is best if hon mirin brewery maintains the traditional production method for making mirin.
Hence, their high commitment and effort will be able to finish the high-quality hon mirin with authentic and original taste.

POPULAR HON MIRIN IN JAPAN ON A LIST
1. Issi Souden Hon Mirin (Ogasawara Mirin Brewery)
2. Fukuraijun Hon Mirin (Hakusen Sake Brewery)
3. Sanshu Mikawa Hon Mirin (Sumiya Bunjiro Brewery)
4. Organic Sanshu Mikawa Hon Mirin (Sumiya Bunjiro Brewery)

How to Use Hon Mirin?

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Daily cooking might be more enjoyable once you know how to incorporate hon mirin into your cooking. Take some notes below about how to use hon mirin!

How to use hon mirin?

Asian cuisine (especially Japanese cuisine) uses mirin a lot. Really, A LOT.

Mirin is popular to make teriyaki, nimono (simmered dish), yakitori (Japanese grilled chicken), oyakodon, also for soba noodle dipping sauce, etc.

Simply add mirin to any dish you want it to have a natural sweetness that's not so sweet. Mirin is perfect for dishes involving meat or fish. Also, unexpectedly mirin can be used to make pancakes and some other sweets to make it have a lumpier texture.

If you are using hon mirin instead of regular mirin, the dish will have more gourmet taste with natural sweetness.

Blowing off the high alcohol content of hon mirin is totally possible, especially if you are cooking for children. For a plenty amount of mirin, it’s best to heat it with a pot and bring it to boil to remove the alcohol.

What hon mirin do to your dishes?

● Helps to suppress the raw-smelling odor of meat and fish.
● Add natural sweetness to your dish.
● Thickens sauce and adds a wonderful glaze to it.
● Prevent the boiled ingredients (like potato or fish) not to collapse easier.

Hon Mirin vs Aji Mirin: What is The Difference?

Can you differentiate which one is hon mirin and aji mirin?
Let’s compare both types of mirin and know which one is the best for cooking.

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● Hon Mirin

・Literally translated as “real mirin”.
・Made with natural saccharification and aging process of only glutinous rice + rice malt (koji) + shochu.
・Hon mirin has a high alcohol content (10-14%) and no salt content.
・Can be used as a condiment and as liquor.
・Have a rich, yet natural and subtle sweetness with umami flavor.

Not all product labeled as “hon mirin” is drinkable, especially when you are buying outside Japan. The drinkable hon mirin only consists of 3 ingredients (glutinous rice + rice malt (koji) + shochu) and WITHOUT ANY SALT.

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● Aji Mirin

・Literally translated as “taste like mirin”.
・A synthetic form of mirin made with water, corn syrup, alcohol, rice and salt.
・Aji mirin has a low alcohol content and about 1-2% salt content.
・Can only be used as a condiment.
・Has a different aroma and taste to hon mirin.

Aji mirin was made based on hon mirin, but it was designed to be more affordable and quickly manufactured. It is also not counted as liquor and more accessible outside Japan.

Hon mirin holds a natural sweetness and umami from the saccharification process that aji mirin doesn't have.
I think it's better to cook an authentic Japanese cuisine using hon mirin.

So, hon mirin vs aji mirin, what's your choice?

Tips to Buy Hon Mirin (and Where to Buy It)

Even though now hon mirin became more accessible outside Japan, we should be careful about choosing the product. May these quick tips below be helpful when you’re buying mirin!

Tips to Buy Hon Mirin


1. Pay attention to its ingredients. Hon Mirin only made with glutinous rice + rice malt (koji) + shochu.
2. Pay attention to its alcohol content. Hon Mirin has a high ABV (Alcohol by Volume) from about 10-14%.
3. The Hon Mirin that can be drunk as liquor will have 0 percent salt content. Please note that NOT ALL Hon Mirin is drinkable, so please check the ingredients again.
4. Check the product label thoroughly and make sure the mirin brewery is licensed. Sometimes, even though it is labeled or branded as “HON MIRIN”, it might not the real Hon Mirin. Make sure the product doesn’t include sugar, soy sauce, preservatives, and any other term for sugar (glucose syrup, fructose syrup, etc).
5. There are many types of mirin (aji mirin, mirin like seasoning or mirin-fu chomiryo, mirin type seasoning, mirin style, and shio mirin) that not drinkable. So please don’t get confused with so many terms for mirin beside Hon Mirin.
6. Hon Mirin product tends to be more expensive than other types of mirin. To make sure it’s really Hon Mirin, please double-check its ingredients.

Where to Buy Hon Mirin


It’s probably not easy to find hon mirin outside Japan, but hon mirin becomes more accessible these days. You can find and buy hon mirin in nearby grocery stores, Asian grocery stores, or at online shops.

However, please keep in mind to carefully choose the product with the tips we mentioned earlier.

If you want more Infos of where and how to buy mirin, please check our article below!

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Hon Mirin Q & A

Is all Hon Mirin drinkable?
You may have seen some products labeled as hon mirin, but please aware that not all products labeled “HON MIRIN” are drinkable.
Follow our tips to buy the genuine hon mirin here.
How to use Hon Mirin?
There are many ways to use hon mirin. First, (after you make sure the hon mirin is drinkable) you can drink it as liquor.
Second, you can use it as a condiment to make teriyaki, nimono (simmered dish), yakitori (Japanese grilled chicken), oyakodon, also for soba noodle dipping sauce, etc.
What is the differences between hon mirin and aji mirin?
Difference Hon Mirin Aji Mirin
Meaning Translated as “real mirin” Translated as “taste like mirin”
Ingredients Glutinous rice + rice malt (koji) + shochu Water, corn syrup, alcohol, rice and salt
Alcohol and Salt Content High alcohol content (10-14%) and no salt content Low alcohol content and about 1-2% salt content
Usage Can be used as a condiment and as liquor Can only be used as a condiment
How sweet is Hon Mirin?
Hon mirin is classified as rice wine that has a natural, subtle sweetness from the rice malt (koji).
I want to use Hon Mirin, but I want to remove its alcohol content. How to properly blow off the alcohol content in Hon Mirin?
If you are dealing with a small amount of hon mirin (one glass), you can microwave it for about a minute. But, if you handling a larger amount of hon mirin, please put the mirin in a pot and bring it into a boil for more than 1 minute.
How to store Hon Mirin?
Let’s store the hon mirin in a cool and dark place before and after opening the product, such as cupboard or pantry.

Recommended Hon Mirin Products

Choosing hon mirin might be tricky at first, especially if the product label are not displayed properly. We’ll introduce some of Hon Mirin product recommendations to make sure you’ll get the best hon mirin from veteran licensed mirin brewery.

These products are widely use in Japanese restaurants, and even perfectly affordable for household use.
It's surely the real deal Japanese Sweet Rice Wine and worth it!

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The 4 Years Matured Hon-Mirin (Issi Souden) – The Special Made Ogasawara Hon-Mirin 600 ml
Issi Souden is a mirin made in the origin place of mirin, Hekinan City of the Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
The mirin is made using the high quality of glutinous rice from Saga City, a homemade koji specially made to make mirin, and a domestic made shochu for the ingredients and made through a period of aging for four years.

Because it is a real mirin or "hon mirin", it has elegant umami taste on it, so you can also enjoy it as a liquor.

Place of Origin : Hekinan City, Aichi Prefecture
Contents : 600 ml
Click here to check the products
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Fukuraijun 3 Years Matured Hon-Mirin 500 ml
It's a hon-mirin with has rich fragnance with elegant sweetness. The Fukuraijun 3 Years Matured Hon-Mirin is a mirin acknowledged by many professional cooks, used in many restaurants to bring the umami of their dishes. You can enjoy it as liquor, too.

You can use it in various dish, from Japanese traditional cuisines and sweets, to Western cuisines. Please try it in many dishes by all means!

Place of Origin : Kawabe City, Gifu Prefecture
Contents : 500 ml
Click here to check the products
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Sanshu Mikawa Mirin 700 Ml 【Sweet Sake】
"Sanshu Mikawa Mirin 700 ml" is authentic mirin which has the deliciousness of glutinous rice with only using the Japanese traditional method for mirin brewing.
This mirin can be drink as delicious liquor because it has an elegant and clean sweetness, with good gold color that shines. The rice malt (koji) could completely bring out the umami and richness from your dish ingredients.

Place of Origin : Mikawa Area, Aichi Prefecture
Contents : 700 ml
Click here to check the products
organic_sanshu_mirin
Organic Sanshu Mikawa Mirin 500 Ml 【Sweet Sake】
Organic Sanshu Mirin made with organic ingredients using the traditional brewing method from more than 200 years. This product has received certification from Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association for certified processed agricultural products. The ingredients used are only the natural farming method products that are glutinous rice, rice malt (koji), and authentic shochu only.

Place of Origin : Mikawa Area, Aichi Prefecture
Content: 500 ml
Click here to check the products