Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS
Though fairly removed from most of the globe on Australia’s southern coast, Melbourne boasts a thriving international food scene. The Japanese food trend took hold “Down Under” starting in the 1980s. Coupled with the nation’s famous wine culture, it’s only natural that sake found itself in high demand.
However, as is the case around the world, sake lovers may struggle with finding accessible shops to discover new and premium sake in Melbourne. Over the last decade, more sake importers, distributors, and even brewers have begun to flourish in Victoria’s largest city. Here’s a quick guide to some of the best places to get sake in Melbourne.
Once available almost exclusively through restaurants, sake has found its way into shops around the greater Melbourne area. These sake retailers range from extended wine shops to Japanese mega grocers and sake sommelier outposts. Shops are listed in alphabetical order.
Fuji Mart is part of Jun Pacific, one of Australia’s most comprehensive Japanese food distributors. The first retail shop opened in New South Wales in 1976 to respond to a growing Japanese population in the area. Today, Fuji Mart operates in five brick-and-mortar locations and boasts the largest online Japanese grocery store in Australia. The store in Melbourne is the largest Jun Pacific outlet and, as a result, carries a wide variety of sake.
The regular inventory includes over 80 sake varieties ranging from top shelf junmai daiginjo to sparkling and flavored sake. Additionally, Fuji Mart occasionally hosts promotional fairs showcasing one specific sake brewery.
FUJI MART Melbourne
34a Elizabeth St,
South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9826 5839
Monday – Saturday: 10am-6pm
Nicks Wine Merchants is one of Australia’s largest wine retailers. Formed in 1958, the family-owned shop began as a grocer that shifted to the retail wine sector over 30 years. Since then, the company made a name for itself as an award-winning, independent online bottle shop. The company’s retail warehouse sits on the suburban outskirts of Melbourne in Doncaster East, roughly 30 minutes from the city center.
The warehouse stocks sake from over 15 breweries in Japan. As a wholesaler, customers can buy their favorite sake in bulk with special prices for a dozen bottles. Nicks also carries some of the highest premium category sake in their inventory, as well as hard-to-find brands. The store website also includes taste profile and origin brewery information.
Nicks Wine Merchants
10-12 Jackson Court
East Doncaster VIC 3109
Phone: +03 9848 1153
Monday – Saturday: 9am-5:30pm
Australia’s premier Japanese knife seller, Chef’s Armoury, expanded into the sake market in 2013. Company founder Leigh Hudson began importing and distributing Japanese knives in 2007. Hudson is also a licensed sake sommelier and WSET Certified Sake Educator. Along with co-founder, Stephanie Hudson, Hudson aims to expand the selection of sake in Australia and integrate sake into everyday drinking.
The shop gets its stock directly from Japan, imported several times throughout the year. Hudson hand-selects sake from small or unknown breweries, making Sake Shop an exclusive carrier of numerous brands. The shop website also includes a “Virtual Sake Sommelier” description on each sake bottle. This section describes the sake palate in 6 categories and provides storage, serving, and brewery origin information.
Sakeshop – Chef’s Armoury
422 Church St
Richmond VIC 3121 AUSTRALIA
Phone: +61 3 9429 1139
Tuesday – Saturday: 10:30am – 5:00pm
Closed public holidays
With the impact of COVID-19, more businesses set up online stores and extensive delivery networks. The breadth of existing sake retailers continued to expand their business, many marketing exclusive rights to unique sake brands. Notably, Melbourne houses many online distributor warehouses, extending the option of onsite pickup as well as direct shipping. Online shops are listed in alphabetical order.
Sake Boutique is an online merchant specializing in sake and other alcohol from Japan. The business began in 2003 as a wholesale distributor for Japanese restaurants in Australia. While still operating in the wholesale business, Sake Boutique also offers customer direct retail sales.
Selected by buyers in Japan, Sake Boutique offers primarily sake from small-scale breweries. Each sake listing has a tasting profile, temperature serving guide, and information about the brewery and its brewing process. The website also offers a food pairing guide and cocktail recipe suggestions. Sake connoisseurs can also opt into the Sake Boutique Prestige Collection to access rare, Limited Edition sake.
Sake Boutique ships nationwide throughout Australia with a flat-rate $15 fee.
Sakemate is an online sake retailer based in Melbourne. The company started in 2010 when founder Akito Kurakawa wanted to integrate more of his home country’s national drink in Australia. Kurakawa officially launched the Sakemate site in 2015. Since then, Sakemate has worked with over 100 Japanese breweries to bring sake to restaurants and individuals alike.
The shop specializes in Junmai sake with some specialty options. Notably, Sakemate is Australia’s exclusive distributor of Shichiken sake. The site is best suited for drinkers familiar with sake varieties, as each sake listing includes only abv, seimaibuai, and a brief taste description. For those unsure on what to order, Sakemate also has sake set options, including a sake starter set and Shichiken pack.
Sake Online is a large online Japanese alcohol retailer operated in partnership with Daiwa Food Corporation. Daiwa Food was formed in 1999 to meet the demands of a growing Japanese food scene in Australia. Now their Sake Online division boasts one of the widest online sake selections nationwide.
With over 150 sake labels, Sake Online offers popular junmai sake as well as nigori, nama, and sparkling varieties. The site also provides informational guides describing sake characteristics and pairing guides. Occasionally, Sake Online promotes specialty sake from various prefectures across Japan, such as Kanzukuri sake from Iwate.
The Victoria warehouse sits 25 minutes outside of the Melbourne city center, offering same or next day pick up.
Sake Online Australia
6/251 Ferntree Gully Road
Mount Waverley, VIC 3149
Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 12:00pm
With an expanding sake community, more people in Melbourne have the opportunity to enjoy Japan’s national drink outside of omakase restaurants. Sake novices can find a shop with expert sake educators to guide them through one-of-a-kind labels. More experienced sake drinkers can compare virtual shelves with exclusive brands to find their ideal bottle.