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Sake Bust - Volcano Ruins the Day

Natural disasters! Yup - I've participated in a few - from earthquakes to typhoons and from heat waves to hurricanes. Hell - I was once even in a locust swarm. I have also seen lava and steam from a volcano. But ash? Nope. Ash was a first for me, and it quite frankly killed my flight from San Francisco to London last month. Yes sir-ee! I was supposed to be a senior judge for the sake side of the International Wine Challenge (IWC) for the second time. This is the largest wine competition in the world. I love this tasting! And my hat is off to those guys for doing sake proud! (Sam Harrop is a fellow Sake Samurai)

The best part of this tasting/judging is that the panels are made up of both western judges and Japanese judges in equal numbers. It's a great way to see the variance in tastes. I wrote about this "difference" in palate in the May 2008 Newsletter. The IWC uses a 100 point system and I was both fascinated and frustrated when the western and Japanese judges were 30-40 points off on the same sake. How? So I had to lead the group to explaining their reasonings, and yes, patterns did emerge. The western palate definitely has a taste for larger flavors and more impact. The Japanese palate prefers cleaner and more balanced elements that favor a drier product.

I was really looking forward to see if this trend continued. But alas that volcano kicked my ash! (Oh and it prevented the Japanese team from attending as well!)
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