While KitKats are a popular chocolate snack the world over, Japan has a very special relationship with this confectionery. The reason for the brand’s popularity in Japan is simply because its name sounds like ‘kitto katsu‘, which is a common Japanese expression of good luck! It’s also a common gift to children taking their exams, or anyone needing a bit of luck.
You may know some unique flavours of KitKat that’ve come out of Japan, whether it’s azuki, matcha or even soy sauce. However, some of the more exotic flavours are those infused with real sake – the national Japanese tipple! You’ve got to give it to the Japanese for their innovation: there’s way more than just one type of sake-infused KitKat and they’re all made with white chocolate.
KitKat Nihonshu & Sakura Japanese Sake
The world’s first KitKat containing sake was released back in 2016, which is a white chocolate infused with nihonshu (or sake, as it’s known in Japan) that packs 0.8% alcohol per bar. This was then replaced by the release of Sakura Japanese Sake version, which comes in a blue packaging. It’s called ‘sakura’ because this white chocolate is infused with sakura, so you get a wonderful aroma of sakura and sake in one snack. Released in 2019, it re-released in 2020. This one contains 0.7% alcohol per bar.
Japan Sake KitKat
This KitKat is made with premium sake from Masuda Shuzo, an elite Toyama brewery that’s over a century old and is the maker of the smooth and sweet Masuizumi sake. This Japan Sake KitKat is made with white chocolate, with the sake imparting a slight fruitiness and astringency when you open the packaging. Contains 0.4% alcohol per bar.
Ume Sake KitKat
This KitKat is a partnership between Heiwa Shuzo Brewery in Wakayama and soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata. The brewery is known for its fruity sake, and Nakata (a sake connoisseur) selected the Tsuru-ume Suppai Umeshu (plum wine) for this Ume Sake KitKat. Plums are famous in Wakayama. This white chocolate KitKat imparts the fragrance and slight tartness of plums. Contains 0.2% alcohol per bar (2018).
Yuzu Sake KitKat
KitKat partners with Hidetoshi Nakata again, but this time with Hamakata Shoten brewery for their Bijofu Yuzu Sake which has a richer flavour compared to other yuzushu (yuzu wine). This white chocolate Yuzu Sake KitKat has a nice creaminess that comes from the sweet juice and mellow tart rind – it’s perfect for those who love yuzu. Contains 0.2% alcohol per bar (2019).
Yogurt Sake KitKat
In the latest partnership with Hidetoshi Nakata, KitKat’s Yoghurt Sake is created in collaboration with Niizawa Sake Brewery which makes yoghurt sake – rice wine made with rich Jersey yoghurt. The bottles of sake can only be transported in temperatures under 5ºC – or it could explode! The KitKat version is said to balance the sweetness of yoghurt and the sharpness of sake. Contains 0.5% alcohol per bar (2020).
Sakura Masamune Daiginjo Sake
This is a Kansai-area special edition KitKat, made in collaboration with Sakura Masamune brewery (established in 1625). This KitKat is made with their premium Daiginjo sake (which can sell for as much as US$180 a bottle), which means the rice has been polished down to 50%, leaving behind the best flavour and aroma. Contains 0.4% alcohol per bar (2018).
Whiskey Barrel Aged
For a new indulgent height, this Whiskey Barrel Aged Kitkat is a premium flavour using Ghanian cacao that’s aged for 180 days in wooden barrels previously used to store whisky from Islay, Scotland. The barrels are rotated once a week to ensure an even distribution of the taste and aroma of the whiskey, which is noted for its smoky peatiness. This is one of those Japan-only exclusives. (2020)