Aki-agari (Aki-bare)・Aki-ochi

“Clear skies of autumn”; “rising/falling in autumn”. (The phenomenon of) sake that improves during storage until autumn, or its opposite.

As a general rule, new sake (shinshu) is all pasteurized by the end of April, and matures thereafter as the temperatures rise towards summer. The phenomenon by which sake improves, becoming more balanced and rounded by autumn is called aki-agari (秋上がり) or aki-bare (秋晴れ), this latter a phrase used to describe the settled blue skies enjoyed for much of autumn in Japan. When shikomi is carried out with hard water or that with high chloride content, and the result is fast-fermenting otoko-zake, it is said that it will “rise” (agaru) to improve in autumn even if it is arai (rough in taste) when new.

In contrast, if pasteurization is late or storage conditions are poor, flavour may decline and the sake pass its peak by autumn. This is called aki-ochi (秋落ち), “falling in autumn”. New sake high in amino acids, low in acidity, or light so-called onna-zake brewed using soft water all age quickly and are said to be prone to decline in autumn.