Sake expands its reach with more categories and gold medals at the iwc

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International Wine Challenge announces 37 Gold Sake Medals for 2014

  • Highest ever number of entries and highest number of Gold medals awarded

  • New categories for Ordinary Sake and Sparkling Sake

  • 18 prefectures have won Gold medals Yamagata and Niigata both lead with five breweries

The 2014 International Wine Challenge, held recently in London, awarded a total of 496 Gold medals across wine and sake categories this year. Entries were received from all over the world including Colombia, Georgia, and China. Each medal wine or sake is tasted on at least three separate occasions by a minimum of ten of the finest wine or sake tasters in the world.
This year, the International Wine Challenge Sake competition, sponsored by Japan Airlines, was the biggest ever competition with over 725 sake submitted. 2014 also marked the first step towards a truly international sake competition, with entries from Norway, USA and Canada.
40 International judges also attended, with the IWCs unique 50/50 Japanese / Non-Japanese judging panel supported by the Sake Samurai Association in London on the 14 and 15th of April.
Sam Harrop, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:

The calibre of sake has been outstanding at this years competition. The Gold medal winners are absolutely stunning, and whether you are looking for a bargain in the supermarket aisles or a big name to wow your friends for a special occasion there is a sake for you. It is wonderful to see such quality across all styles of sake.
2014 also saw the introduction of two new sake categories Ordinary Sake (Futsu-shu) and the relatively new phenomenon of Sparkling Sake. Both fared well. Each category was judged independently, so no comparison was made across different categories. Therefore, while the Ordinary Sake was judged on the same criteria as other categories yeast, rice polish rate and the addition of alcoholit was not competing against the more premium sake.
In total, the IWC awarded 37 Gold medals across the sake categories: Ordinary Sake: 1; Honjozo: 3; Junmai: 5; Junmai Gingo/Daiginjo: 7; Gingo Daiginjo: 11; Sparkling: 3 and Koshu: 7.
If a consumer sees an IWC medal sticker on a bottle of sake, they can trust the quality of the product, as it has been tasted by some of the finest sake judges in the world,explained Sam Harrop.
Whether you are a sake novice or a seasoned expert, our stickers can help you choose great sake every time you shop, he added.
The first Gold medal for an Ordinary Sake was won by Jousen Hourai from Watanabe Shuzouten from the Gifu prefecture. As Ordinary Sake has a higher production volume than the other categories, the sake is widely available around Japan.
The first ever IWC Gold medals for Sparkling Sake were awarded to Haginotsuru Junmai Daiginjo by Shikenjozoshu Hagino Shuzou in Miyagi, Junmai Ginjo-shu Origarami by Tenzan Shuzo in Saga and Houou Biden Kasseishu by Kobayashi Shuzou in Tochigi
Honjozo fared well with three Golds medals: Honjozo Shouden from Kitaya in Fukuoka (last years Champion Sake maker) and two from Niigata, Honjozo Myokosan from Myoko Shouzo and Funaguchi Kikusui Ichibanshibori from Kikusi Sake Co.
Gold medal winners for Junmai came from all across Japan. Gold medals were awarded to Hakuko Yodanshikomi Junmai "Red" by Morikawa Shuzo in Hiroshima, Sotenden Tokubetsu Junmaishu by Otokoyama Honten in Miyagi, Manotsuru Akamon Nama from Obata Shuzo in Niigata, Isojiman Tokubetsu Junmai Omachi by Isojiman Premium Sake Brewery in Shizoska and Dewazakura Dewano Sato, Dewazakura Sake Brewery in Yamagata.
Premium categories excelled in this years competition with Junmai Daiginjo being awarded seven Gold medals:

Junmai Daiginjo Joppari Hanaomoi by Rokka Shuzo in Omori

Hiroki JunmaiDaiginjo by Hiroki Shuzouhonten in Fukushima

Takijiman Junmai Daiginjo by Takijiman Shuzo in Mie

Ichinokura Junmai Daiginjo Kuranohana by Ichinokura in Miyagi

Daishinsyu Teippai by Daishinsyu Breweries in Nagano

Kuramitsu by Kikusui Sake in Niigata

Ginrei Gassan Junmai Daiginjo by Gassan Sake Brewery in Yamagata
11 Golds were awarded in the Gingo Daigingo category:

Taiheizan Daiginjo Juhonen by Kodama Brewing in Akita

Daiginjo Fukukomachi by Kimura Brewery also in Akita

Aizu Homare Daiginjo by Homare Sake Brewery in Fukushima

Kazuki Kokon and Waomotte Toutoshitonasu by Daishinsyu Breweries in Nagano

Daiginjo Hitenzan by Tenzan Shuzo on Saga

Kikuizumi Daiginjo Hizoushu by Takizawa Syuzo in Saitama

Kid Daiginjo by Heiwa Shouzou in Wakayama

And three golds from Yamagata

Kikuisami Daiginjo Hiden by Kikuisami

Dewazakura Yuki Manman by Dewazakura Sake Brewery

Toko Daiginjo Yamadanishiki by Kojima Sohonten
In the Koshu category, seven Gold medals were awarded:

Yamabuki Gold by Kinmon Akita Shuzo Co Ltd in Akita

Tokigasane Junen Jukusei Junmai Genshu by Koshinoiso in Akita

BornA Wakening of The Angel by Katoukichebee Shouten in Fukui
Jukusei Koshu Hidanohana Suiou by Hirata Shuzojou also from Gifu

Hanahato Kijoshu aged for 8 years by Enoki Shuzo in Hiroshima

Kirin Jijoshu Vintage 2001 by Kaetsu Sake Brewery in Niigata

Toki no Nagare by Inatahonten in Tottori
IWC Category Trophies will be announced on 14th May, and for the first time a Great Value Sake Award for a sake with a high production (over 100k bottles), low price (less than ¥ 1000) and a high quality (Gold or Silver medal) will be announced.
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What is International Wine Challenge?

Now in its 31st year, the International Wine Challenge is accepted as the worlds finest and most meticulously judged competition. The IWC assesses every wine or sake blindand judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage. Each medal winning wine or sake is tasted on at least three separate occasions by a minimum of 10 different judges including mastertasters. Awards include medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended awards. The IWC is committed to helping consumers discover great wine and the medals displayed on winning bottles offer a trusted guarantee of quality.
Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners -

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For more information please contact:



Ali Maynard & Helen Kenny

t. 0203 1379270

m. 07712 877 972


Chris Ashton

t. 07884 063405


All International Wine Challenge news can be found at our Digital Newsroom

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