Joy Of Sake

Every August, Hawaii hosts the U.S. National Sake Appraisal, with ten judges from Japan and the U.S. evaluating roughly 300 sake entries over two days. After this blind tasting, all the sakes are presented, for tasting by the public at The Joy of Sake. This event, with entries from every region and representing virtually every brewing style, is the oldest and largest annual sake-tasting event held outside Japan and gives an unparalleled perspective on the great variety of delicious sakes being produced today.

But it all happens in two and a half hours, hardly enough time to appreciate even a fraction of so many wonderful sakes. With this in mind, the International Sake Association began to set aside “archive bottles” for sampling at small tasting sessions of around sixty people. Starting in October of 2006, these “Aftertaste” events have been held every month to give people a chance to explore the nuances of around forty different sakes selected from a certain region or belonging to a certain style.

Each Aftertaste begins with a 10-minute talk by a member of the Kokusai Sake Kai (International Sake Association), followed by a 50-minute tasting. Then all the entries are moved into an adjoining room with appetizer stations so that the sakes can be enjoyed as they are meant to be, together with food. This way of tasting sake–first for education, then for enjoyment–was introduced to us by Norihiko Umeda of Ishimoto Brewing Company, to whom we would like to express our gratitude.

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