Sake vs. Vodka: What Is the Difference? (Explained!)

Sake and vodka are two popular drinks known in many places. However, someone unfamiliar with these two may find it confusing and may wonder how they differ. If you feel the same way, you may ask: what is the difference between sake and vodka?

In general, sake and vodka are liquors that are popular with many people. However, sake and vodka are different in many ways. Such differences include their manufacturing process, taste, appearance, effect, and even alcohol and calorie content. 

Besides these things, you’ll also wonder about some ideas like using one to replace the other. Such questions are essential to understand since it involves proper understanding and knowledge about these two drinks.

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the fundamental questions about sake and vodka and help you differentiate one from the other. This way, you’ll know how to use both drinks and avoid interchanging them from one another.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sake vs. VodkaPin

What is the difference between sake and vodka?

As I mentioned earlier, sake and vodka come with several differences. Sake and vodka may both be popular drinks, but they differ in many ways. So, let’s check out some of the characteristics that distinguish these spirits from one another.

Sake vs. vodka calories

Vodka has a higher calorie count than sake. Thus, you can enjoy sake more due to its lower calorie content. Also, you’ll find it healthier to drink.

Since vodka has more calories, you can expect it has a deeper flavor than sake. For example, a 100-gram serving of vodka includes 231 calories, while the same quantity of sake only has around 130 calories.

For this reason, you’ll find lesser calories in consuming sake than vodka. However, you’ll also find vodka having a bit more flavor than sake.

Sake vs. vodka alcohol content

Vodka has a higher alcohol content, generally having 40%. On the other hand, sake only has around 15-16% of alcohol. Thus, you’ll find vodka has a more pungent alcohol scent and flavor than sake.

As a result, you can get drunk with a few shots of vodka, while you can enjoy a bit more sake before you start feeling tipsy.

Sake vs. vodka hangover

Sake will give you a lesser hangover than vodka, mainly because the alcohol content is lesser. Thus, if you drink any of the two, you’re more likely to get a hangover with vodka, although it still depends on how much you drink.

Sake may produce fewer hangovers than other beverages. It is due to its low to mild alcohol level and the fact that it is often a light-colored alcoholic beverage. Although vodka is less likely to give a hangover than other drinks, you’ll find it better to drink sake.

Can I use vodka instead of sake?

No, you cannot use vodka instead of sake because these two have different properties compared to each other.

Although both of these drinks are alcoholic beverages, vodka contains more alcohol. Also, sake has a sweet taste and fruity scent. 

Thus, if you use vodka instead of sake, you’ll lack the sweetness and aroma that it gives. You’ll also find your recipe more alcoholic, so it’s not ideal for cooking.

In general, take it as a rule of thumb to see sake more as a fermented rice beverage and vodka as a clear spirit, and both can’t replace one another.

Can I use sake instead of vodka?

No, you cannot use sake instead of vodka. The reason is that you’ll find sake too flavorful and has lesser alcohol than sake.

If you’re mixing a cocktail that needs vodka, you may lack the punch that it gives. Also, sake may affect the flavor of your drink since it has its taste and scent.

While vodka is ideal for cocktails and on its own, sake is more of a standalone drink that isn’t ideal for mixing in cocktails.

How is vodka made compared to sake?

The most significant difference is how the two are made: Sake is fermented and brewed like beer, and vodka is distilled.

Vodka manufacturing process

The manufacturing process of vodka is through distillation and fermentation. Also, it mainly comes from water and ethanol through grains.

Traditional vodka is manufactured from two primary materials: water and ethanol from cereal grain fermentation. Some of the typical grains where vodka originates from are wheat, sorghum, or rye. 

After fermentation and distillation, vodka is filtered and refined to eliminate contaminants and produce a smooth texture. Thus, the final product is a clear spirit that’s high in alcohol content.

Sake manufacturing process

The manufacturing process of sake is similar to a beer, and it’s done through brewing. Here’s an overview of how people make sake. 

Rice is rinsed before being steam-cooked. After that, yeast and koji are added (rice developed with a mold known technically as aspergillus oryzae). 

Then, the entire mixture is left to ferment for four days, with extra rice, koji, and water added in three batches throughout that time. Shikomi is the name given to this fermentation that takes place in a big tank. 

The grade of the rice, the extent to which the koji mold has spread, temperature changes, and other elements vary by Shikomi. This mixture is left to sit for 18 to 32 days before being crushed, strained, and incorporated.

Is sake healthier than vodka?

Sake and vodka are two of the healthiest liquors you can find. However, it’s hard to tell which one is healthier, as both sake and vodka have health benefits for their consumers.

For instance, drinking Japanese sake in moderation has certain health advantages. Sake lessens the risk of cancer, aids in the prevention of osteoporosis and diabetes. 

Further, this drink may lessen high blood pressure, moisturize your body and make it smoother by reducing melanin production, making spots the least obvious.

On the other hand, vodka can improve circulation and blood flow in your system, which can help you avoid clots, attacks, and other cardiac problems. Vodka can also aid in weight loss. Furthermore, for people controlling their weight, it is often regarded as a lower-calorie liquor.

In short, both liquors can offer health benefits, especially if consumed in moderation.


In a nutshell, sake and vodka are different, mainly because of their manufacturing process. However, these drinks also differ in several aspects. Among these are calorie and alcohol content and also in appearance and effect.



Image credits – Canva

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