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  • Ned palmer

Match of the Week: Cheshire and Sake

Nanbu Bijin Brewery’s Ume Rose Sake with Appleby’s Cheshire

The flinty minerality and saltiness of Cheshire contrast beautifully with the plummy fruit of this fascinating sake. The plums must have gone in while the sake was still fermenting as I don’t get any sweetness from residual sugar, just a lovely fresh fruitiness. The flavours in both the cheese and sake are light and delicate so there’s no unseemly conflict and domination between them.

Appleby’s is one of very few traditional cheshires left in the world. It’s traditional in the sense that the cheese is made with raw milk from the Appleby family’s own herd using animal rennet and is bound in cloth. All these things ensure a complex delicate flavour and a crumbly yet moist texture. My mate Dom, one of the great cheesemongers of the world, had this and only this as his 40th birthday cheese.That’s how good it is.

There is much to explore in the world of sake. Different varieties of sake rice, different degrees of polishing the grain, region of origin, changes in temperature and age all contribute to a much more varied and nuanced product than warmed table sake, as nice as that may be. Nanbu Bijin Brewery has been going since 1912, so I imagine they are beginning to get a handle on it by now. The name means beauty of the Nanbu region. Isn’t that nice?

You can buy Appleby’s Cheshire from Neal’s Yard Dairy and most decent cheesemongers, and Ume Rose from Uneo Gourmet sake importers. Or you can come to a tasting and try them both there in my august and convivial company. Get in touch to book an event or to talk about ideas for tastings here.

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