Akashi-Tai, for the Goodness of Saké

It has been a few months since my last (and first) post on saké and for some reason, another producer of the brewed rice beverage thought it would be a good idea to send me some more. While no one would confuse me with a saké expert (heck, I would not even be considered a saké tyro).

With each shipment of saké I receive, however, my father-in-law (a big fan of saké) thinks I am some sort of expert, so there’s that. Now, if I could only convince him I know a thing or two about wine…

The following three sakés come from Akashi-Tai, a small artisanal producer in Akashi City, a rather small fishing village in the traditional saké-producing prefecture of Hyogo. Akashi-Tai has been making small-batch saké since 1856 and a couple of weeks ago I tasted the following sakés with Kimio Yonezawa, Akashi-Tai’s Owner and Toji (brewmaster) for the last thirty years.

NV Akashi-Tai Tokubetsu Honjozo Genshu Saké, Japan: Retail $20 (300ml). This Honjozo (translated as “traditional method”) is milled to 60% and is a pale yellow in the glass with aromas of yellow apple and citrus. A rich creaminess on the palate, this saké goes down rather easily and quickly as it is both refreshing and flavorful. Kimio-san said this is the saké that the workers at the brewery reach for at the end of a long day. I can see that. Very Good. 88 Points.

NV Akashi-Tai Daiginjo Genshu Saké, Japan: Retail $30 (300 ml). Milled to 38%. Much more refined than the Honjozo and almost colorless. Kimio-san says that the brewmaster stays up for 72 straight hours to ensure that everything is just right with this saké. Although I do not want *that* job, who is to say that the brewer fell asleep on the job–this is fantastic. A more floral and subtle nose, with hints of ripe pear, honey, and white flower. The palate is rich, full, and quite flavorful with a mouth-coating acidity that persists onto the finish which endures for several minutes. Excellent. 92 Points.

NV Akashi-Tai Brewery Junmai Daiginjo Genshu, Japan: Retail $40 (300ml). Milled to 38%. Kimio-san stated that this saké, near the upper end of the brand, takes two months to brew. I know very little about saké production, but that sounds like a long time. Virtually colorless in the glass with luscious, almost sweet nose of melon, honeydew, pear, and an herbal element (mint?). Whoa. The palate is both rich and delicate with harmonious flavors and acidity from start to finish. I have not experienced many sakés, but the list that I would consider better than this one is decidedly short. Yowza. Outstanding. 94 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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