Junmai • Pure Rice Sake
Yamahai • Traditional yeast starter method
Muroka • No charcoal filtration
Nama • Unpasteurised
Genshu • Undiluted
Rice: Yamada Nishiki
Polish rate: 70%
Before the main fermentation, the brewer must first prepare a starter mash known as the shubo or ‘Mother of Sake’ which is known colloquially as the moto. In the usual sake fermentation process, the moto goes through a 3 step fermentation process (sandan jikomi). The Moto + 1 is an Akishika method whereby the mash only ferments once (ichidan jikomi), resulting in a brew that has residual sweetness and acidity. The combination of this method and the yamahai brewing process, together with 5 years of aging results in a sake that is similar to port or sherry.
About Akishika Shuzo | Nose, Osaka Prefecture
Akishika Shuzo was founded in the town of Nose (No-say) in Osaka prefecture in 1886. When Hiroaki Oku took over his family brewery in 2009, he set a new production target: He wanted to slash it by 75 percent. Each year he gets closer to that goal, and Akishika sakes get rarer. His reasoning: he wants to use only the very best rice, and to be at the helm for every step of the process. He’s aiming for what he calls “ikkan-zukuri”, meaning production from seedling to sake.
Oku-san grows organic rice on 22 hectares of local land without the use of herbicide, pesticides and agricultural chemicals. He makes his own fertiliser by fermenting the byproducts of rice growing and sake brewing. He won’t use manure, he says, because you can’t be sure what the animals ate. The focus on organic isn’t just about health. When you avoid the nitrogen-based fertilisers you can grow a better, leaner grain, free of the impurities that can ruin a sake. The care put into the cultivation of rice shows in the sake, which are unfiltered to retain as much of the purity and umami of the rice as possible.
He has also invested in a milling machine. You don’t often see them in breweries of this size because they’re enormous beasts, they cost about the same as a Lamborghini Huracan, and it’s easy to outsource the milling. But it’s a price you pay if you want to be ikkan-zukuri.
Oko-san's sakes typically have layers upon layers of flavour and a moreish streak of acidity. Some are held back to develop for years until he believes they’re in perfect drinking condition. Sake from Akishika Shuzo have a cult status in Japan, so when Akishika does release sake, they sell out exceptionally quickly. We are lucky to get our hands on a few bottles.