The Akashi Sake Brewery stretches back to the end of the Tokugawa Period (1600-1867), when the company produced soy sauce and traded in rice. In 1918, the company started making fine sake. Over the years, Akashi Sake Brewery has expanded and modernized its sake-brewing activities, and now produces and sells a wide variety of products from premium sakes to varieties of distilled spirit shochu. Japanese sake has played a long and distinguished role in the evolution of Japanese tradition and culture — sake reflects the appreciation of the Japanese for the ebb and flow of the seasons, enjoyed and shared among friends. Sake is not a wine, as this implies the fermentation of fructose. It is really a strong rice beer with an ABV up to 20%. However, it is immediately noticeable that the complexity of aromas, flavours, and styles are more reminiscent of wine than beer! Sake literally translated is “alcoholic beverage”. ‘Nihon-shu’ is the word in Japanese that distinguishes it from other beverages and is the real word for what we know as Sake. However, to add to the confusion, filtered or clear sake is legally known as ‘Sei-shu’ whilst cloudy sake is known as ‘Nigori-shu’. Japanese Law defines ‘Sake’ as, "made from rice, rice koji and water using fermentation and filtration processes". Premium sakes are only made in the cool months between December and March. The quality of the rice and water is crucial. For example Hyogo has hard water giving full-bodied, complex sake whilst Kyoto has soft water making soft, light sake. Approximately 60 special strains of high starch rice are used and the degree to which the rice is milled plays a major role. Milling removes proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins from the grain leaving only the white starch heart; more thorough milling results in fewer congeners, therefore a cleaner brew and a finer product. In Japan sake is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated, depending on the preference of the drinker, the quality of the sake, and the season. Typically, hot sake is a winter drink, and high-grade sake is not drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas will be lost. It can also be used in cocktails. Akash-tai Honjozo is a traditional and well-established favourite amongst sake lovers. It has an elegant nose with lime, lemon and straw notes. There are more citrus notes on the dry palate which is smooth and well-balanced. Can be served chilled if you prefer to accentuate the dryness or serve warm (up to 50c) to emphasis the smoothness and roundness.