us national sake appraisal

U.S. National
Sake Appraisal

The U.S. National Sake Appraisal has been held annually since 2001, with ten judges from Japan and the United States evaluating around 350 sake entries over two days. Top-scoring labels receive gold and silver awards. In addition, “Grand Prize,” “Second Grand Prize” and “Third Grand Prize” awards will be presented to the three entries that receive the highest marks in their respective categories from the ten judges. Following the Appraisal, all entries are presented for tasting by the public at the annual Joy of Sake events in Honolulu, Las Vegas and Tokyo.

entry form

Sake Judging

us national sake appraisal

Entries are judged based on four criteria: balance, taste, aroma and overall impression. A well-balanced sake presents an overall harmony, with no readily discernible faults, and its aroma is perfectly integrated with its flavor.

With aroma, connoisseurs recognize such qualities as refinement, complexity, individuality and effusiveness. Aroma figures strongly in the judging of ginjo and daiginjo sakes but is less of a factor with junmai labels.

When rating the taste, judges think in terms of pairs of opposites (clean vs. cloying; rich vs. heavy, tight vs. loose, etc.) and score on a scale of one (the highest mark) to five. Taking into account a sake's balance, taste and aroma, one can now rate its overall impression as either outstanding, good, acceptable, slightly flawed or noticeably flawed.

Entries to the U.S. National Sake Appraisal are evaluated in a blind tasting over two days with ten participating judges, five from Japan and five from the U.S., using the form on this page. There are two sessions, the “isshin,” or first tasting, in which all entries are tasted, and the “nishin,” or second tasting of entries in top 50th percentile of the isshin tasting. Gold and silver awards are determined by ranking in the nishin tasting.

judging form
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