November 13, 2014
Nagoya Regional Taxation Bureau
In Tokai Sake Awards 2014, exhibited were a total of 218 items of Japanese sake including 102 items of Ginjo-shu from 61 breweries, 63 items of Junmai-shu from 63 breweries, and 53 items of Honjozo-shu from 53 breweries.
In the competition, according to today’s brewing environment, where the kinds of yeast used for Ginjo-shu are increasingly diversified, we added a category to the Ginjo-shu class for items using a traditional yeast*, and separated Ginjo-shu items using an alcohol additive from those not using it. To evaluate, we tasted Junmai-shu and Honjozo-shu in a heated state, which is a style of drinking unique to Japanese sake.
After meticulous and strict examination, we selected 38 Ginjo-shu from 25 breweries, 26 Junmai-shu from 26 breweries, and 20 Honjozo-shu from 20 breweries of outstanding quality and awarded them honor prizes.
These brewers said that they were able to make quality sake because they consistently used quality rice in spite of difficulties in securing rice during the period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, because temperatures were generally low in winter and because brewers fully demonstrated their excellent brewing skills. In addition, breweries’ efforts to pay close attention to storage conditions control, all items exhibited in the competition were of high quality.
Every item of Ginjo-shu has unique characteristics such as gorgeous bouquet, mild taste, and other traits. We realized the high level of brewers’ skills in diverse characteristics among Junmai-shu items, some of which have a clear taste and others a rich taste. We also found that all Honjozo-shu items have a strong originality in their completed taste.
To contribute to the development of the Japanese sake industry and to consumers’ benefit by promoting the advancement of brewing technology and improving the quality of sake in the district under our jurisdiction through quality evaluation for this competition.
The competition was conducted for three classes: Ginjo-shu, Junmai-shu, and Honjozo-shu.
Eligible items for this class were unrefined sake of Ginjo-shu and Junmaiginjo-shu (Ginjo-shu with no added alcohol) that brewers brewed in their own breweries in 2013. All items were classified according to the yeast used, divided into groups based on whether or not an alcohol additive was contained, and the aroma level. We examined Ginjo-shu items at room temperature.
Eligible items for this class were Junmai-shu that brewers brewed in their own breweries with the same alcohol strengths as sake on the market. They were separated by the percentage of rice-grain weight remaining after milling (60% or less and more than 60%). We tasted the items in this class at 45C in our examination.
Eligible items for this class were Honjozo-shu that brewers brewed in their own breweries with the same alcohol strengths as sake on the market. They were separated by the percentage of rice-grain weight remaining after milling, like items in the Junmai-shu class. We tasted the items in this class at 45C in our examination.
Evaluations in this competition were conducted by officials of organizations that teach brewing technology in four prefectures under this bureau’s jurisdiction; persons of learning and experience; those sent from associations of producers, wholesalers and retailers of sake; and officials of the Evaluator Office.
A total of 46 evaluators were engaged in the evaluation.
* Traditional yeast:
Today, thanks to developments in biotechnology, yeast fungi that can produce high level of aroma have been developed and used for most items exhibited in the competition. “Traditional yeast” is excellent yeast fungi that had been used for brewing Ginjo-shu since before such new fungi were developed. While today most items of Ginjo-shu have a gorgeous apple-like aroma and clear taste, Ginjo-shu items using traditional yeast have a gentle banana-like aroma and mild taste with the least aftertaste. Because of these very different characteristics, we separated the Ginjo-shu class into two groups in this competition.