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Sake Joy - More Brews Than You Can Shake a Chopstick At!

sake joy aug 2008Well we are coming to that time of year when the Joy of Sake is celebrated! Huh? The Joy of Sake? The JOS as I call it - is by far the largest sake tasting that is open to the public held outside of Japan. Think hundreds of sakes to taste! Also think it terms of sakes that are both available and unavailable in the US. (Yes sort of a mean concept serving sakes that are not available here, but I fully agree with the concept of tasting sakes that remain abroad. Sake is a journey, and you/me/we must go to the source at some point to taste sake that has not journeyed to your doorstep. By tasting sakes unavailable to you on a daily basis should create a yearly yearning that is only satisfied with travel.)

But before the Joy of Sake comes the "judging" of sake! And for me it is a bit of an honor to speak about the "history" of sake here in the US (as opposed to all of "that" history of sake in Japan) that produced the genesis for the Joy Of Sake. If you could ever call one man a ripple - then the former brewmaster of the Honolulu Sake Brewery - Mr. Takao Nihei - was that first splash that changed the pond of water known as sake history in America. A former representative of the National Research Institute of Brewing in Japan he went on to brew sake in Hawaii, but more to the point he put his arm around the shoulders of some early sake pioneers drinking sake in Honolulu. These folks including Chris Pearce got the notion to start an international sake association to communicate the song of sake, and he guided them through the process.

In 1986 the International Sake Association (Kukosai Sake Kai) took flight - well before their time if you ask me! And subsequently five years later this body sponsored the U.S. National Sake Appraisal's first "competition" under the watchful eye of the Japan National Research Institute of Brewing. Why have an appraisal if you cannot have a party? And here we are six years later appraising sake and having a great party! For several years Chris Pearce has asked me to be a judge in this event that features experts from Japan and the US, and my timing has always been putrid! But alas this year worked! And in late August I will be in Hawaii tasting some sake. Ummmmm excuse me? "Tasting some sake?" Okay, I wanted to draw out the fact that I will taste a boatload of sakes - the largest collection of brews ever presented in the US. The numbers are dramatic, but let's let Chris speak directly to that....

Herewith is a quick email with some juicy facts that Chris sent:

"Beau - here's some information you may find useful for your newsletter. It's the list of entries for the 2008 U.S. National Sake Appraisal, broken down geographically and by category. An exclusive release for True Sake..."

U.S. National Sake Appraisal - Entries by Category
Category 2008 2007
Daiginjo A 94 86
Daiginjo B 53 46
Ginjo 86 79
Junmai 59 64
Kimoto 33 27
Total 325 302
Submitted by Breweries not
Exporting to U.S.
118 104
2008 U.S. National Sake Appraisal - Entries by Prefecture
Hokkaido 2
Sendai (Tohoku) 
Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita Yamagata, Fukushima
Kanto Shinshu 
Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Niigata, Nagano
Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi
Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui
Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie
Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama
Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi
Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi
Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki
Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki
U.S. 10
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