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National New Sake Awards – Shinshu Kanpyokai

I always wondered how 新酒鑑評会 (Shinshu Kanpyokai = National New Sake Contest) works. When talking about sake, people make a big deal about the sake being the Gold Medal Winner at Shinshu Kanpyokai. In the last sake lecture I attended, someone mentioned that the going price for Gold Medal winning sake is 10,000 yen for 720 ml bottle. It is obviously a big deal and great marketing tool to say “Gold Medal winner”. So, I decided to dig into what the prize means and how it works.

If you prefer to read about Shinshu Kanpyokai in detail, here’s the link to National Research Institute of Brewing’s English site. Most of their materials are in PDF, but I found this extremely helpful to get the whole picture. So, here’s my summary version of the National New Sake Awards.

The National Sake Contest is hosted by the National Research Institute of Brewing (NRIB) in Japan every year in April. Brewing Year 2005 entries are accepted until the end of March 2006, and it will be their 94th contest since 1911.

Anyone who makes sake legally can enter the contest with a fee of 15,750 yen. However, one entry per physical kura is the rule. If the kura has more than 2 physical sites, they can enter per kura site.
In the BY2003 contest, there were 1049 entries. Of 1049, 529 was 受賞 (jyusho=prize winning sake). The Gold Medal is given to the very best among prize winning sake. In BY2003, there were 278 Gold Medal winners.

There are two classifications in the contest:
1. Ginjyo-shu with more than 50% Yamadanishiki rice
2. Ginjyo-shu with less than 50% Yamadanishiki rice
So, Yamadanishiki is the dominant rice in sake making with 978 entries as Part 1. Part 2 entries were only 71 in 2003.

Who decides and how do they decide the winners?
NRIB executive director appointees from amongst the Japanese Sake Brewers Association, the NRIB itself, and the National Tax Agency.
Based on aroma, taste, and overall quality.

Check the list of 2003 Gold Medal Winners to guide you the next time you order nihonshu.



  1. […] or Gohyakumangoku and local yeast. And, his sake is good – the daiginjo won the gold medal at the National New Sake Awards this […]

  2. […] of people were waiting very anxiously to see this at 10 am today. The results of this year’s Shinshu Kanpyokai are in, and the complete list of award winners is posted on the NRIB’s website […]

    A very big day for sake - May 20, 2008

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