“Ask Beau” – "How did it feel to Co-Chair the IWC in London?”
Thank you to the bevy of folks who congratulated me for my “upgrade” at the IWC. It was an honor to be asked to up my game, and I greatly enjoyed my progression up the IWC ladder. When the IWC first added sake to their platform I was actually asked to act as a chair of sorts. The problem was that we didn’t have many Panel Chairs and they felt that my strengths would be better used out on the floor rather than in the back room. At first I was a little miffed, but I actually found it far more useful, informative, and fun working with Japanese and western judges for the first few efforts.
My gosh, the first few IWC judgings were crazy town! So I am actually quite proud of the fact that I did more for the IWC out on the floor as we tried several judging systems after one another. I think I may get credit for ditching the 100 point system. It just didn’t work when we had a system that saw 20, 30, sometimes 40 point differences between sake ratings by Japanese and western judges. It was a bloodbath and I earned my stripes running very effective panels marching through these bloody fields. We changed and we adapted and we improved! And I was on the frontlines for that. Certain folks worked for me on panels and now they are Co-Chairs.
The bottom line is that the IWC system is about work and paying your dues. My palate has been judged by the IWC for the past 11 years and I always grade out very high, this even with walking pneumonia one year. I am very confident in my sake palate and I would say that it has the taste of the western palate and the appreciation for the Japanese palate. So it has been a great ride for me all of these years helping the IWC product from a Panel Chair format. Last year I acted as a Co-Chair for the very difficult second day of tasting and was told that I did a good job, so much so that they asked me to Co-Chair full time this year.
I did notice certain judges this year looking at me differently. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but I certainly do not have to justify my promotion. I have definitely successfully jumped every hurdle in front of me. I have made my own mark at this competition, and I have added value in a capacity that only one or two other folks in the world could add. So my feelings for being a full-time Co-Chair this year were all positive. I know I could do the work. I did the work. I did the work well. And now I have a newfound appreciation for all of the work the Co-Chair do. It is a lot of pressure and a lot of work. I was knackered on Day Two after completing our end.
I think at the end of the day the Co-Chairs have to put themselves out there farther than any other level. You lay it on the line each and every sake, flight, category and judging. And you’ve got to be fast. You need speed and confidence, and I think I have both. I am indebted to my fellow Co-Chairs for making my experience an incredibly awesome one! And like my panel work, I’ll only get better!