1. Overview

The Osaka Sake Awards 2018 (Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures) are held in accordance with the following aims:

  1. (1) Annual quality examinations of sake manufactured within the Kansai region in the fall, and notification of evaluation results to entrants.
  2. (2) Advancement, progression, and quality improvement of sake manufacturing technology through the disclosure of sake entries to parties involved in sake manufacturing.
  3. (3) Contribution to the development of the sake industry.

The Kansai region constitutes the major consumer market for sake and includes the cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. Moreover, both Nada (Coastal Nishinomiya city and Kobe city) and Fushimi (southern Kyoto city) are Japan’s largest sake-producing areas. The Kansai region possesses state-of-the-art technology for sake manufacturing, and is therefore known for the production of high-quality sakes.

The Kansai region extends from the Sea of Japan, with its colder oceanic climate, to the Pacific Ocean, with its milder climate. The Kansai region contains a large number of breweries that produce a wide variety of rich, mellow, and crisp sakes.

2. Sake Entries

(1) Ginjo-shu

Ginjo-shu (“Labeling Standards for the Manufacturing Process and Quality of Sake [National Tax Agency Notice No. 8, 1989]”) produced during the 2017 brewing year (July 2017 to June 2018).

(2) Warmed sake

Warmed sake made using rice with a rice-polishing ratio of 60% or greater, with no limitation on brewing year.

3. Quality Examinations

(1) Examination dates

September 27 (Thursday) and 28 (Friday) and October 2 (Tuesday), 2018

(2) Examination site

Alcoholic Beverage Inspection Office, Fourth Floor, Osaka National Government Building No. 3

(3) Examination methods

Conducted with a total of 49 jury members (individuals under the age of 65 years at the time of the quality examinations with broad knowledge and expertise in the quality examination of alcoholic beverages, such as staff members from prefectural brewing-related organizations and toji, or master sake brewers).

Ginjo-shu evaluations were conducted at room temperature, and warmed sake was evaluated at approximately 45°C, after heating in a vessel containing water at 50–52°C.

(4) Evaluation standards

Overall quality was evaluated for the following qualities of sake deemed to be “good”.

Ginjo-shu: Harmony of aroma and flavor distinct to ginjo-shu present in a matured, mellow taste.

Warmed sake: Harmony of aroma and flavor enticing a desire that cannot be sated.

4. Status of Entries

(Unit: entries, sites)
Prefecture Number of entries Actual number of sites
Ginjo-shu Warmed sake Total
Shiga12 13 25 13
Kyoto 22 16 38 23
Osaka7 6 137
Hyogo31 35 66 39
Nara 10 11 2112
Wakayama 7 6 13 7
Total 89 87 176 101

5. Trends in Sake Quality among Entries

Temperatures for the 2017 brewing year were for the most part lower than usual throughout the brewing period from November to February, but apart from heavy snowfall in some areas, precipitation was generally low, providing a suitable climate for sake brewing.

Because temperatures in western Japan remained equal to or somewhat lower than usual for most of last September, many of the later varieties of western Japanese rice that constitute the rice used as raw materials, such as Yamada Nishiki, were found to have a solubility equal to or somewhat higher than usual.

As the rice quality was diametrically opposed to what it had been during the 2016 brewing year, when rice solubility was low, it was a year that called for discernment in each step of the process. However, the producers have fully demonstrated the excellence of their brewing skills, cultivated over many years, and based on the fact that they also stored their product properly over the summer months, most of this year’s sake entries were of excellent quality, demonstrating a fine balance while sufficiently drawing out the palate of the rice.

(1) Ginjo-shu

The bouquets were flowery and reminiscent of fruit, and had the full-bodied aroma typical of ginjo-shu, while many of the entries were characterized by flavors demonstrating the influence of the higher solubility of the rice, resulting in a well-rounded mouthfeel that capitalized on the palate of the rice to produce a moderately-aged taste profile.

(2) Warmed sake

Bouquets ranged from mild to rich, and the flavors were also rich in individuality and variety, ranging from lighter tones to a crisp acidity to broad, rich palates tempered with softer, sweeter notes.

6. Conferment of Prizes

Breweries whose entries received superior marks on the quality evaluation were awarded the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau Commissioner’s “Excellence Prize.”

7. List of “Excellence Prize” Recipient Breweries