One of Japan's hidden treasures, Tatsuriki Akitsu, is a very limited Sake that we have only been able to offer once before. Akitsu is made at the Honda Shoten Brewery in Hyogo Prefecture, located in southern Japan, above Osaka and west of Kyoto. Founded in 1921, this is one of the few breweries we have worked with that takes the cultivation of rice and the terroir very seriously. For example, as a great vigneron in Burgundy would, Honda Shoten has studied the land extensively to learn what is best, growing their own rice and sourcing from some of the best farms in Japan. Instrumental in this cultivation of rice and knowledge was Takeyoshi Honda, who conducted soil research at the Graduate School of Agriculture in Kyoto, Japan, for 20 years until his passing in his late 80s. His findings on how different soils affect the rice variety Yamada Nishiki were revolutionary. He discovered that magnesium content is linked to Sake's sharpness and bitterness and ultimately helped narrow down where the Honda Shoten Brewery would source its rice.
The district where the rice is grown for this Sake is called Tojo in Hyogo prefecture and is said to be an ancient conversion spot of rock, creating a stratum of tuff and shale that has been eroded down over time into black clay soil called "2-1 smectite" (pictured below) and is ideal for rice. Along with this ancient soil, Tojo also has the advantage of having a high elevation, excellent sun exposure, and high temperatures during the day with cool nights. All of these aspects Together make Tojo one of the best places in Japan for Rice cultivation.
While Tojo is a great terroir, one village rises above the rest: Akitsu. In this village, the brewery specifically seeks rice from one person from a single farm, Mr. Tsukura, who is said to grow the best Yamada Nishiki rice in all of Hyogo Prefecture. By law, it must be organic, dried in the traditional method, and processed by hand with every effort to ensure that this Junmai Daiginjo is perfect. The Honda Shoten Brewery said the idea behind the Akitsu was to be the Romanee-Conti of Sake, a bold statement that rings true.
The Yamada Nishiki rice is polished down to 35%, taking over 100 hours per batch before a slow three-week fermentation process. It is then filtered and bottled, where it is aged for up to 8 years at 32F prior to its release, creating unmatched complexity, depth, purity, and integration and one of the most masterful, hand-crafted bottles that focus on the soil-to-sake, rather than some high-tech process, like a centrifuge.
The Akitsu has aromas of honeysuckle, ripe melon, stone fruit, and a deep minerality with an apparent focus on the terroir. There is a beautiful, airy rice aroma, and even with 8+ years in the bottle, it is still very fresh and shows excellent precision but so much depth. Subtle at first, Akitsu builds in richness and layers of Umami, enveloping the palate in a beautiful balance between laser-focused acidity and delicate sweetness that fades to an explosive dry mineral finish. There is an incredible mix of elegance and power here with a luscious, velvety texture and excellent length on the finale, with definite soil tones on the palate and nose. It's an outstanding and expressive sake that goes surprisingly well with cured meats, cheeses, and traditional Japanese fare. Akitsu is a must-try for the serious sake drinker and is one of the greatest bottles you can get your hands on today. Akitsu is incredibly special and brings Romanee-Conti-level precision and perfection to the world of Sake. We have a limited amount of the most recent batch that has recently arrived from Japan, and it is highly recommended if you have been interested in our high-end selections.