Judging Method, Categories and Awards

Judging Process

A rigorous process of judging is in place to ensure the fairest possible assessment of sake through a 100-point scoring system carried out by sake professionals.

Double Blind Tasting

Prior to judging, all sake samples will be pre-poured in numbered glasses so Judges will perceive and assess the sake as it is objectively – purely by its color, aroma, and flavors. No label nor information concerning its region or breweries will be presented to Judges.

Limited number of sake to taste

To avoid any palate fatigue, at most 70 sake samples will be tasted in flights of 12 by each Judge. There will also be break time between each flight.

Expert Judges

Our Panel Judges comprise Sake Samurai, global industry leaders, leading F&B professionals in Asia, sake columnists, journalists, WSET Sake educators as well as certified sake sommeliers. There will also be a small number of Guest Judges who may be importers and FJSIHK Professional or Trade members etc. The whole team of Judges consists of 25 – 35 sake professionals. 

Reputable Medalists and the distinguished Sake of the Year

A controlled small number of medals will be given out to excellent sake only. The total number of medals will not exceed 40% of the total number of entries. The finest sake selected from Gold medalists will receive the distinguished award ‘Sake of the Year’.

Sake Assessment by a Hierarchy of Judges

All sake samples will enter a first round of tasting by Guest Judges, Panel Judges, Panel Leaders and co-Chairmen. Those having achieved an excellent level of quality will enter the second round where the Judges will reassess, discuss and award them Bronze, Silver or Gold Medals. Comments will be given to all medalists individually. At the third round, co-Chairmen and Panel Leaders will then reassess the Gold Award winners to determine the Champion for each category. Lastly, a final tasting will be performed on all Gold medalists across categories to award the best one Sake of the Year.

Scoring System

Sake of the Year – Finest sake in a particular year

Gold Medal (94 – 100 points) – Extravagantly beautiful sake

Sake with exceptional quality and complexity that are among the best sake in the world

Silver Medal (87 – 93 points) – Classic and timelessly beautiful sake

Sake with outstanding quality that exemplifies the beauty of its category

Bronze Medal (82 – 86 points) – Beautiful and impressive sake

Sake with excellent quality that offers a pleasant drinking experience overall

Gold Medal
 94 – 100 Points
Silver Medal
 87 – 93 Points
Bronze Medal
 82 – 86 Points
Sake of the Year

Judging Criteria by Categories

To qualify as an excellent sake, harmony (overall balance) and completeness are of utmost importance across all categories. Other than that, there are more in-depth individual judging criteria for each category:

1 – Junmai Daiginjo / Junmai Ginjo (Light & Clean)

For a light and clean style, Purity, Elegance and a Clean Finish are key attributes.

Purity: Are the aromas and flavors pure?

Elegance: Is the sake refined and flawless? Are all components in perfect harmony? 

Clean Finish: Is the finish fine and clean?

2 – Junmai Daiginjo / Junmai Ginjo (Aromatic & Rich)

For an aromatic and rich style, Expressiveness, Complexity and Mouthfeel are key attributes.

Expressiveness: Are the aromas and flavors vivid?

Mouthfeel: Is it round, smooth and full?

Complexity: How complex is this sake? Do the tastes and aromas interact in an interesting and complementing way?

3 – Daiginjo / Ginjo (Light & Clean)

For a light and clean style, Purity, Elegance and a Clean Finish are key attributes.

Purity: Are the aromas and flavors pure?

Elegance: Is the sake refined and flawless? Are all components in perfect harmony? 

Clean Finish: Is the finish fine and clean?

4 – Daiginjo / Ginjo (Aromatic & Rich)

For an aromatic and rich style, Expressiveness, Complexity and Mouthfeel are key attributes.

Expressiveness: Are the aromas and flavors vivid?

Mouthfeel: Is it round, smooth and full?

Complexity: How complex is this sake? Do the tastes and aromas interact in an interesting and complementing way?

5 – Honjozo

For Honjozo, Purity, Simplicity and a Clean Finish are key attributes.

Purity: Are the aromas and flavors pure?

Simplicity: Are the flavors straightforward and aromas pure?

Clean Finish: Is the finish fine and clean?

6 – Junmai-shu (Rich & Umami)

For a rich and umami-led style, Mouthfeel, Expressiveness and Umami are key attributes.

Mouthfeel: Is it round, smooth and full?

Expressiveness: Are the aromas and flavors vivid?

Umami intensity: Is umami intensity sufficient?

7 – Junmai-shu (Light & Clean)

For Junmai-shu in light and clean style, Umami Expressiveness, Mouthfeel and a Clean Finish are key attributes.

Umami expressiveness: Is the umami presented straightforward?

Mouthfeel: Is the body light?

Clean Finish: Is the finish fine and clean?

8 – Sparkling sake

For Sparkling Sake, Effervescence, Mouthfeel and Layers are key attributes. 

Effervescence: Is the effervescence delightful? Are the bubbles vivid yet refined and smooth?

Mouthfeel: Is it delicate and smooth?

Layers: How are the aromas and flavors layered? Are all components in perfect harmony? 

9 – Namazake

For Namazake, Freshness and Expressiveness are key attributes.

Freshness: Is it fresh overall?

Expressiveness: Are the aromas and flavors vivid?