Akishika Daiginjo Retro Label 2019
By Akishika Shuzo
Recently, my choice of sake has largely been determined by my online social calendar. In particular, the weekly series Taste With The Toji, organised by the wonderful Simone Maynard, has either introduced me to some wonderful new sake, or rekindled my affection for others.
One such brewer is Akishika Shuzo 秋鹿酒造 located in a remote region of northern Osaka Prefecture. I had read a little about them in the past, yet, for whatever reason, I had never had the pleasure of their sake prior to the session. The little I did know was that I should expect a rich, full bodied sake, with bold mellow flavours as a result of considerable aging, most likely unpasteurized.
You can forgive me for being somewhat surprised then with what eventually turned up on my doorstep: The sake I chose was a Daiginjo, a bit of a rarity for me, and I am reliable informed for its makers, too. Brewed using Yamada-Nishiki rice polished to 50%, it is limited each year to just 380 bottles. In keeping with the brewery’s style, it has also been stored at “low temperature” for about two year prior to its release.
However, rather than being the rich, bold, aged sake I was expecting, it is actually rather subdued and elegant. It’s dry when chilled, and rather tight, not revealing much of its true character. However, it starts to take on a milder sweetness, rather reminiscent of icing sugar, as it begins to warm up in the glass, and is definitely more suited to this temperature range.
Although it was brewed using Association #9, it has very subtle aromas. Instead of fruity, think more herbaceous, with just a hint of Jukusei-ka. Definitely not a typical Daiginjo, and I’m willing to bet that it’s a suitable candidate for warming, too. Unfortunately it never lasted that long for me to find out, and I will have to save that experience for my next bottle!
If I am completely honest, I was advised to start with something from their standard lineup, like a Junmai Yamahai. However, I’m a sucker for limited edition sake, and the truly beguiling label tipped me over the edge.
The retro style is a faithful reproduction of the companies original label that was registered by their founder back in 1912. It exuded the classic beauty of the typical Taisho Era style, complete with the translucent bottles. Each is then individually numbered, even going as far as to use the old character numbering system. The one I received displayed the kanji 捨参, which after some investigation, I discovered is bottle #13.
So it’s safe to say that my first experience with Akishika was not what I was expecting. Although several people have told me that it’s really not a good representative of their typical style, I am nonetheless impressed with what I have experienced so far. They clearly had a specific vision in mind for this special sake, and have been uncompromising with its creation. Always the sign of a great maker.
Now that I am better informed about their sake thanks to the wonderfully informative TWTT session, I’m looking forward to exploring some of the brews that have won over so many loyal admirers. If anyone wants to offer a recommendation for the next chapter in my Akishika journey of discovery, I’m all ears...