The Akashi Tai sake brewery has been in existence since 1856, based in the fishing town of Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan. They have taken the sea bream (‘Tai’) as their symbol because they admire the strength, drive, curiosity and tenacity of this fish that fights for survival in the strong currents of Osaka Bay. Further inland they are blessed with fertile lands and fresh springs that produce good rice.
This is the sake that the Akashi Tai brewmasters reach for at the end of a working day. To qualify as ‘Honjozu’, at least 30% of each rice grain must be milled away before fermentation to remove fats and proteins that can affect the flavour – but in this case, Akashi Tai remove 40%. Genshu means undiluted – brewers normally add water to temper the alcohol level of a sake – so this one is fuller in body, has a more concentrated flavour and is a bit stronger than most sake (and wine for that matter) at 19% ABV. It has a rich, woody aroma, a velvety texture, a lingering finish and hints of citrus fruits. It is dry and accompanies rich dishes or even cheese and can be served chilled or warm (our preference is chilled, especially in the hotter months).
BANDANA MONKEY BAR
Bandana Monkey Bar is a cocktail bar at award-winning restaurant with an award-winning bartender at the helm. Dan Morgan (Cheltenham Bartender of the Year 2018) joined Koj in Cheltenham (Cotswold Life’s Best Newcomer 2018 and Cheltenham BID’s Best Restaurant 2018). Although Dan is classically trained and can knock up a mean Martini, Daiquiri or Mai Tai, he now curates an innovative Japanese cocktail list using ingredients such as sake, mirin and shochu. With 15 Japanese whiskies, Bandana Monkey is the best stocked specialist bar in Cheltenham. Pop in for a cocktail and order from the famous buns menu.
Whether it’s food or drinks, we share Akashi Tai’s mantra that adhering to authenticity and tradition doesn’t mean being conservative or non-progressive. To truly respect tradition is to keep it alive, and to do that you sometimes need to be willing to question the status quo and challenge received wisdom. This requires insatiable curiosity and strength of character to follow your own path, but with a profound understanding of and respect for the centuries of tradition and craft that have led to where we are now. In the case of the sea bream, swim against the current because you never know what you might find.