Today's piece is short, but interesting - the Oita Broadcasting System TV station covers the Kumamoto Sake and Shōchū Makers Association Association kikizake (tasting) for shinzake (newly brewed sake). Click here to see the original article which includes video footage of the assessment (about 1 minute).
The report looks at a yearly meeting held in Oita City, Kumamoto Prefecture on 7 March 2018 to assess the dekibae (出来栄え) or craftsmanship/skill of the prefecture's sake brewers by testing newly brewed sake produced between October 2017 and March 2018. Brewers will take feedback from this assessment on board to make improvements before the April appraisal held in Kumamoto City. The 17 assessors tasted 110 sake from 12 breweries, looking for balance in the aroma and flavour. The Association says they want to continue raising the bar for sake brewing, and to get younger people to appreciate its charms.
There were some interesting things in the footage - I have the image of the kikichoko (white ceramic cup with two concentric cobalt circles) as the receptacle for sake tasting, but the assessors are using amber-coloured glasses. (See 0:27 for a good shot of lots of them lined up on a table.) Does anyone know what the reasoning behind that is?
Watching the assessors is interesting as well - the video shows them taking a quick inhale, then a quick sip. (If they have to get through 110 samples I can see why they have to be brief...) One swirls the glass a little while smelling, but I wonder if this is the Japanese style of assessment where they check for faults/lack of balance rather than what is seen as "tasting" in the west.
There's a not-very-clear shot of the sheet being used for the assessment around 0:51, and it looks like there are five short sections for each sake? Even writing in Japanese, which tends to be more compact than English, that's not a lot of room.
Anyway. Respect. I'm still buzzed after tasting a dozen coffees on Sunday.