Okinawa Regional Taxation Office
Awamori Kanpyokai (Awamori Awards) 2021 by the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office of Japan and the Okinawa Regional Government
Awamori is a kind of traditional Japanese spirits, which is particularly produced in Okinawa: the southernmost islands of Japan. Awamori is said to have a long history of more than 600 years while preserving the original manufacturing process. The uniqueness of Awamori comes from its ingredients, and from the process of distillation and aging.
Firstly, as an ingredient, only rice koji (typically rice fermented using black koji mold that has been confirmed for safety) is allowed for a product named Awamori, and this leads to complex, rich aromas and flavors.
Second, as a distillation process, only pot stills are used, and there is a great diversity of shapes.
Third, as an aging process, Awamori aged more than three years is called “Kusu.” During the aging process, the aromas, tastes and textures of Awamori are transformed.
Because of this complicated manufacturing process, the qualities of Awamori show great variation.
Awamori Kanpyokai (the Awamori Awards) is a competition involving traditions and techniques, which is held by the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office and Okinawa Regional Government. It was held for the 49th time in 2021.
There are two sections in Awamori Kanpyokai: the Aged Awamori Section, and the Main Products (aged less than three years) Section.
The qualities of the Awamori are checked by means of sensory evaluation consisting of a strict evaluation process by expert judges, and only Awamori with the most prominent qualities are selected.
Only excellent Awamori distilleries that participate in the Aged Awamori Section are eligible for the prizes of the Director-General of the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office or the Governor of Okinawa, Okinawa Prefectural Government.
Awamori Kanpyokai (the Awamori Awards) has two main objectives.
One objective is to encourage Awamori distilleries to reinforce their basic manufacturing skills and to improve their processing techniques.
Another is to improve the qualities of Awamori and to provide convenient information for consumers.
Through these objectives, the development of Awamori distilleries, which is an important local manufacturing industry in Okinawa, is being established.
All exhibited Awamori are subjected to sensory evaluation. All examinations are blind and administered by category. During preliminary examinations, each sample is scrutinized for distinct attributes of aromas, taste, and smoothness to clarify a sensory profile. The samples are also given scores based on their overall quality.
After the preliminary examination, the highest scoring entries, which represent approximately 60 percent of the total entries, are subjected to the final examination. During the final examination, the nominated Awamori are once again judged and subsequently ranked according to their overall quality. The award winners are finally determined based on the final rankings.
Of these, the blender with the best performance of the blended awamori was selected as the Awamori Blender of the Year 2021
Expert judges are selected from a pool of panelists, including:
Dates of Quality Examinations
Based on the results of the quality examinations held by the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office and the Okinawa Prefectural Government, the numbers of entries and prizewinners are as summarized in Table 1.
Prizewinners are shown in Table 2 and Table 3, according to the honors bestowed by the Director-General of the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office or the Governor of Okinawa, Okinawa Prefectural Government.
Awamori Blender of the Year 2021 is shown in Table 4.
In order to clarify the flavor characteristics of prizewinner Awamori, sensory evaluation using the QDA (Quantitative Descriptive Analysis) method were carried out.