1. Overview

The Osaka Sake Awards 2019 (Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures) are held in accordance with the following aims:

  1. (1) Undertake annual quality examinations of sake made within the Kansai region in the fall, and notify entrants of their evaluation results.
  2. (2) Encourage the advancement, development, and quality improvement of sake making technology by disclosing the results of sake entries to parties involved in sake making.
  3. (3) Contribute to the development of the sake industry.

The Kansai region, which includes Osaka City, Kobe City, and Kyoto City, is well known for its sake consumption, and 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 making, and is well known for producing 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. Consequently, there are 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 2018 brewing year (July 2018 to June 2019).

(2) Warmed sake

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

3. Quality Examinations

(1) Examination dates

September 26 (Thursday), 27 (Friday) and October 2 (Wednesday), 2019

(2) Evaluation venue

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

(3) Evaluation methods

Evaluations were conducted by a panel of 52 judges (individuals under the age of 65 years at the time of the quality assessments with broad knowledge and expertise in the quality assessment of alcoholic beverages, such as staff members of prefectural brewing-related organizations and toji, or master sake brewers).

Ginjo-shu was evaluated 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 that is distinctive of ginjo-shu and present in a matured and mellow taste.

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

4. Status of Entries

(Unit: entries, sites)
Prefecture Category Actual number of sites
Ginjo-shu Warmed sake Total
Shiga12 10 22 12
Kyoto 22 14 36 23
Osaka 6 6 127
Hyogo 28 33 61 35
Nara 10 10 20 13
Wakayama 5 6 11 6
Total 83 79 162 96

5. Trends in Sake Quality among Entries

The 2018 brewing year was challenging with regards to the management of fermentation. This was partly due to the relatively high solubility of the rice and, in terms of climate conditions, the fact that warm weather generally persisted throughout the winter. Given these circumstances, sake producers outdid themselves in their application of sake making techniques mastered through rigorous daily training and their observance of appropriate storage methods in the heat of summer. Their efforts have facilitated the production of many sakes of excellent quality with well-balanced aroma and flavor.

(1) Ginjo-shu

We saw many examples of sakes that, while characterized by a gorgeous yet robust bouquet that was evocative of fruit and a refined taste appropriate for ginjo, also managed to balance these qualities with a mellow flavor achieved by aging.

(2) Warmed sake

These were richly varied with an abundance of individuality. Bouquets ranged from mild to having a full-bodied quality that comes with maturity. Similarly, in terms of taste, some entries were characterized by a refreshing aftertaste, others by a long, drawn-out finish, and still others by a fullness of flavor derived from their acidity.

6. Conferment of Prizes

Breweries whose entries received superior scores for quality were awarded the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau Commissioner's “Excellence Prize”.

7. List of “Excellence Prize” Recipient Breweries