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The Sankei West site reports on the Annual Japan Sake Awards 2018, and sees which prefectures came out on top.

More literally translated as the “national new sake appraisal”, the competition is held jointly by the National Research Institute of Brewing (NRIB) and the Japan Sake and Shōchū Makers Association (JSS).

The contest dates from 1911 (Meiji 44) so is now in its 106th year. Its main objective is to improve the quality and production techniques of sake, and the judges are mainly tōji master brewers and members of the Japan National Tax Agency – which sounds odd until you realise they have a long association with all alcohol production in Japan including grading and assessment. As well as awarding prizes to exceptional sake, the judges also give feedback on aroma and flavour to help the manufacturers make any necessary improvements.

The 2018 awards cover BY 2017, with sake produced during the brewing year running from July 2017 to June 2018 eligible to compete. There were 850 entries, all unprocessed ginjō with just one entry per manufacturer. After preliminary blind tasting on 24-26 April and final judging on 8-9 May, a total of 421 prize winners and 232 gold prize winners were announced on the NRIB site on 17 May 2018.

The gold prize winners broken down by prefecture are:

  • Fukushima Prefecture: 19
  • Hyogo Prefecture: 19
  • Niigata Prefecture: 14
  • Miyagi Prefecture: 13
  • Akita Prefecture: 13
  • Nagano Prefecture: 12

Fukushima dominated the 2017 awards with 22 gold prizes.