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The Nikkei newspaper covers the start of the International Wine Challenge sake division judging, which began in Yamagata on Sunday 13 May.

Held this year in Yamagata City, the judging will take place over four days with 465 breweries submitting a record 1,639 sake to the competition’s nine categories (futsūshu, honjōzō, ginjō, daiginjō, junmai, junmai ginjō, junmai daiginjō, koshu and sparkling).

Around 60 judges arrived from 15 counties and territories on Sunday 13 May 2018 to start the assessment, pouring sake from bottles concealed by white paper, smelling and tasting and discussing with each other.

This the third time the IWC sake division assessments have been held in Japan, with Tokyo hosting in 2012 and Hyogo Prefecture in 2016. Yamagata is keen to retain its image as a sake-producing region, including securing a Geographical Indication (GI) for its sake in 2016.

Andrew Reed, Managing Director of the IWC, commented that more and more sake are developing the flowery, attractive aromas and flavours that will make them popular overseas, and he hopes the judging will serve to increase awareness of sake globally.