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True Sake News – IWC Press Release Naming BT Co-Chair of IWC

Well! I received some pretty big news. Earlier this month I found out that my very good friend Sam Harrop would be stepping down from the IWC, and he recommended that I replace him along with my other very dear friend Ake Nordgren.

This is a big deal, and I am very honored. After selling over a million bottles of sake and watching the market grow in the way that it has, I feel that my lens and perhaps palate for sake is something that can keep the sake train moving forward.

I have worked very hard for the IWC. I have had some differences and differing thoughts, but I have always believed in the product. It is by far the best judged and most honest sake tasting in the world. (I feel that it is even more productive than the Japanese Sake Brewers National Sake Competition, because the sakes used in that competition are usually not sold to average consumers.)

I look forward to commenting more on my promotion and sharing with you my thoughts on what is a very important vehicle for the advancement of sake throughout the west and the rest of the world.

Herewith is the press release from the IWC:

The International Wine Challenge Sake shuffles Co-chair team

In November 2016, Sam Harrop MW will leave his position as Co-chair of The International Wine Challenge after 11 years of service. For Sake, he will be replaced by Beau Timken from the USA, and Åke Nordgren from Sweden. Both men have been appointed Sake Samuari.

IWC Event Director, Chris Ashton said:
‘I wish to thank Sam for his outstanding service to the IWC. He was responsible for bringing sake into the competition through his role as a Sake Samurai and desire to bring global recognition to this category. IWC Sake is now the world’s largest international Sake competition and is an influential domestic and international sales catalyst for sake.’

‘Our new co-chairs will bring a new dimension to the top team. Both Beau and Åke have been judging with us since the beginning, 10 years ago. They have been rewarded for their judging consistency and sake knowledge. Beau’s western sake palate, and Åke’s more Japanese/European style palate will bring the senior team to 5 people.

Sam Harrop MW said: “It has been an incredible ride and I feel truly fortunate to have worked alongside such committed and talented sake professionals. The time has come to give more focus to other clients, new wine and sake projects and of course to spend more time with my family in New Zealand."

Kenichi Ohashi MW said: "My history with the IWC was started by Sam, 10 years ago. He invited me to wine judge and he promoted by my ability to taste sake, and IWC Sake was born. I learned the perspective of judging Sake from Western point of view, and I was always led by him in terms of how to summarise opinions and how to manage judges. He was the inspiration for me to join the Institute of Masters of Wine. I will miss him greatly at the IWC but we will continue to work together in Sake. I welcome Beau and Åke as Sake Co-chairs, who have also served for 10 years and I look forward to working and learning from them in the future."


Beau Timken said: “As a purveyor of sake in San Francisco for nearly 15 years I've witnessed how sake has been promoted and marketed to the masses, and I firmly believe no other vehicle has done more for the advancement of sake than the IWC. As such it is an amazing honour to be put forth as a Co-Chairman for the largest and most effective sake competition in the world."

"I look forward to expanding on my ten years of involvement as a Senior Panel Chair with the IWC and delight at the prospect of helping sake take its rightful place on the world libation stage with the help of the preeminent sake "institution" in the judging and marketing of sake.The IWC is a world leader for a reason and I'm extremely grateful and honoured to be selected Co-Chairman to help navigate the sake side of this powerhouse for the betterment of the ever growing sake market."

Åke Nordgren said: "Introducing Japanese sake and building the Swedish market for the last 15 years and seeing how the market has grown and matured has been exceptional fun and rewarding. Judging sake for IWC during the last ten years has given a strength in the advancement of growth and understanding sake as a world class beverage, given the fact that IWC is the role model and market leader for sake competition worldwide for the last 10 years. It is an honour to have been involved with IWC since 2007 as a sake judge and Senior Panel Chair, and I'm now extremely grateful and honoured to be selected and put forward as Co-Chairman and continue the IWC legacy and increase the awareness to the growing global sake market."

The IWC Sake international co-chair team includes Kenichi Ohashi MW, Takuya Kusuda from Japan and Simon Hofstra from the Netherlands.

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