Fukushima wins top prize for 17 new "sake" brews in national contest, tying Nagano

In an annual national contest of newly brewed "sake" rice wine, 17 brands from as many breweries in Fukushima Prefecture were awarded the top prize this year, equaling the number of gold winners from Nagano among Japan's 47 prefectures. The Annual Japan Sake Awards for the 2020 brewing year, from July 2020 through June 2021, were announced by the National Research Institute of Brewing based in Higashihiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, on May 21. No Gold Prize was given in last year's contest due to the coronavirus pandemic. Excluding that year, Fukushima had the largest number of top-place finishers for the eighth straight year, extending its own national record winning streak for another year. And it was the 10th time that Fukushima won the top honor, providing more evidence of sake-savvy Fukushima's high-level brewing techniques and product quality. With no final round held to select gold winners last year, the number of Fukushima-brewed sake brands given the top award in the latest contest represented a decrease of five from 22 in 2019. Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative of the city of Nihonmatsu and Nagurayama Sake Brewing Co. of Aizuwakamatsu extended their record of continuous wins of the top prize to 12 years. Higashinihonshuzo won the top prize for the 18th time, the most wins by any single brewery. Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, was home to the same number of gold-winning sake brands as Fukushima at 17, followed by Niigata and Akita prefectures with 13 each. Besides the 17 Fukushima gold winners, 15 other brands from the prefecture were given awards, adding up to 32 in total. The number of award-winning brands from Fukushima was the third largest for a single prefecture after 36 from Nagano and 33 from Niigata. The competition is jointly sponsored by the institute and the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association. It is the sole contest of its kind held on a national scale. This year marked the 109th annual competition. Entries were limited to one brand per brewer of "ginjoshu" sake -- made from highly polished rice, malted rice, water and additional brewing alcohol. This year, 821 brands were entered from across the country. A total of 413 brews were chosen as award winners after a preliminary round of screening in April and a final round on May 11-12. Of the awardees, 207 were given the gold in recognition of their status as particularly excellent brands. The following is a list of gold-winning breweries (in the order of announcement): ■ Kinsuisho Sake Brewery Co. (Fukushima city) ■ Senkomasyuzo Corp. (Shirakawa city) ■ Suzunoi Syuzoten Co. (Ten-ei village) ■ Matsuzaki Shuzo Co. (Ten-ei village) ■ Genbahonten Limited Co. (Tamura city) ■ Toyokunishuzo Limited Partnership (Furudono town) ■ Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative (Nihonmatsu city) ■ Hanaharushuzo Corp. (Aizuwakamatsu city) ■ Nagurayama Sake Brewing Co. (Aizuwakamatsu city) ■ Yoshinogawa Limited Partnership (Kitakata city) ■ Sasamasamune Brewery Co. (Kitakata city) ■ Kaitou Otokoyama (Minamiaizu town) ■ Aizusyuzo Corp. (Minamiaizu town) ■ Eisenshuzo Corp. (Bandai town) ■ Suehiro Sake Brewery Co. (Aizumisato town) ■ Shiraishuzoten Limited Partnership (Aizumisato town) ■ Akebonoshuzo Co. (Aizubange town) The 15 award-winning brands are as follows (with their breweries & locations in parentheses): Jinya (Arigajozo Brewery, Shirakawa city), Sakamizuki (Tanigawa Shuzo, Koriyama city), Miharugoma (Sato Shuzo, Miharu town), Fujinoi (Sato Shuzoten, Koriyama city), Senkonari (Himonoya Sake Brewery, Nihonmatsu city), Kyonohana (Tatsuizumi Shuzo, Aizuwakamatsu city), Aizu Chujoh (Tsurunoe Shuzo, Aizuwakamatsu city), Fukunoka (Suehiro Sake, Aizuwakamatsu city), Yumegokoro (Yumegokoro Shuzo, Kitakata city), Yauemon (Yamatogawa Sake Brewery, Kitakata city), Aizu Homare (Homare Sake Brewery, Kitakata city), Kokken (Kokken Brewery, Minamiaizu town), Roman (Hanamizuki Sake Brewery, Gakujuro (Toyokuni Shuzo, Aizubange town), Aizutokoyama “Wa” (Otokoyama Shuzo, Aizumisato town) (Translated by Kyodo News)