One of the many sake competitions held in Japan is “The Fine SAKE Award, Japan”, but I prefer its Japanese title of ワイングラスで美味しい日本酒アワード (Awards for Japanese Sake That Tastes Good in a Wine Glass).
Having been asked a few times about what sake has been or is now drunk out of, I got the impression that “wine glass” is a flag for modern ginjō/daiginjō styles, best served cool and in a vessel that makes the most of their aroma – so it’s nice to see a much wider variety of styles scooping these awards.
The competition has four categories: main, daiginjō, sparkling and premium junmai. The “main” category is for sake retailing for JPY 2,600 or less for 1.8 litres, and the premium junmai category sells for over JPY 2,600 per 1.8 litres. 2019 saw a total of 883 entries from 250 companies.
Judging took place on 28 February 2019, and the medals awarded were:
Grand Gold Medals
- Main category: 19 (out of 298, ratio 6.4%)
- Sparkling category: 3 (out of 58, ratio 5.2%)
- Daiginjō category: 15 (out of 288, ratio 5.2%)
- Premium junmai category: 14 (out of 239, ratio 5.9%)
- Main category: 74 (out of 298, ratio 24.8%)
- Sparkling category: 21 (out of 58, ratio 36.2%)
- Daiginjō category: 91 (out of 288, ratio 31.6%)
- Premium junmai category: 58 (out of 239, ratio 24.3%)
Congratulations to the Grand Gold Medal winners:
- Main category: Mutsu Hassen Tokubetsu Junmai (Hachinohe Shuzō, Aomori), Hatsufune Jungin Namazake and Kimoto Jikomi Junmaishu Chōkaisan (Tenju Shuzō, Akita), Isshō Seishun Tokubetsu Junmai (Akebono Shuzō, Fukushima), Fukushogun Junmai Ginjō (Meiri Shurui, Ibaraki), Jinyū Junmai Ginjō (Nabedana, Chiba), Kinonē Junmai Ginjōshu (Iinuma Honke, Chiba), Echigo Sekkōbai Junmai Isshin (Hasegawa Shuzō, Niigata), Mukantei (Kikusui Shuzō, Niigata), Echigo Tsurukame Junmai, Echigo Tsurukame Shiboritate Junmai Genshu and Echigo Tsurukame Koshi-Ichi Junmai Ginjōshu (Echigo Tsurukame, Niigata), Kaiun Tokubetsu Honjōzō Nama (Doi Shuzōjo, Shizuoka), Hōrai Ginjō Dentō Karakuchi (Watanabe Shuzōten, Gifu), Ōmi Ryūmon Junmaishu (Ōmi Shuzō, Shiga), Tanbaya Ginjō (Miyake Shuzō, Hyōgo), KONISHI Daiginjō Hiyashibori (Konishi Shuzō, Hyōgo), Ishizuchi Murōka Junmai (Ishizuchi Shuzō, Aichi), Ginjō Hizen Tōji (Yamato Shuzō, Saga).
- Sparkling category: Ninki-Ichi Awasake Sparkling Junmai Daiginjō (Ninki Shuzō, Fukushima), Mizubasho Yukihotaka Awasake (Nagai Shuzō, Gunma), Hananoka Hanabi (Hananoka Shuzō, Kumamoto).
- Daiginjō category: Mutsu Hassen Reimei 40 Junmai Daiginjō (Hachinohe Shuzō, Aomori), Junmai Daiginjō Tenju (Tenju Shuzō, Akita), Haginotsuru Junmai Daiginjō Yamada Nishiki (Hagino Shuzō, Miyagi), Junmai Daiginjō Zao Nobori Ryū (Zao Shuzō, Miyagi), Sōtenden Junmai Daiginjō (Otokoyama Honten, Miyagi), Isshō Seishun Daiginjō (Akebono Shuzō, Fukushima), Sawanoi Daiginjō (Ōzawa Shuzō, Tokyo), Kuramitsu (Kikusui Shuzō, Niigata), Daiginjō Hijiridake (Kikusai Shuzō, Nagano), Hōrai Daiginjō Gokuiden (Watanabe Shuzōten, Gifu), Suzukagawa Junmai Daiginjō (Shimizu Seizaburō Shōten, Mie), Jurakudai Revolution Neo (Sasaki Shuzō, Kyoto), Rokko no Shizuku (Koyama Honke Shuzō, Nada Hamafukutsuru Kura, Hyōgo), Hananoka Junmai Daiginjō Nagomi and Hananoka Junmai Daiginjō Baika (Yamato Shuzō, Saga).
- Premium junmai category: Mutsu Hassen Black Label Junmai Ginjō (Hachinohe Shuzō, Aomori), Amanoto Kijoshu Kidaru (Asamai Shuzō, Akita), Kome Kara Sodateta Junmaishu Tenju (Tenju Shuzō, Akita), Sanran unmai Daiginjō (Tonoike Shuzōten, Ibaraki), Daisekkei Subarashiki Heisei Junmai Ginjō (Daisekkei Shuzō, Nagano), Hōrai Tezukuri Junmai Hidahomare (Watanabe Shuzōten, Gifu), Suzukagawa Junmai Ginjō and Suzukagawa Junmai (Shimizu Seizaburō Shōten, Mie), Eikun Junmai Ginjō Koto Sennen (Saitō Shuzō, Kyoto), Kamikokoro Junmai Ginjō Bingakoi (Kamikokoro Shuzō, Okayama), Kurabito no Jimanzake (Shimonoseki Shuzō, Yamaguchi), Suginoya Fuki no Homare (Hamachi Shuzō, Fukuoka), Munemasa Junmai Ginjōshu -15 (Munemasa Shuzō, Saga), Manbō (Kameman Shuzō, Kumamoto).