Fukushima new "sakes" dominate national competition, win most gold for record 9th straight time

Seventeen brands of "sake" rice wine from the same number of breweries in Fukushima Prefecture won gold prizes in a national contest for new brews, giving Fukushima more top awards than any other of Japan's 47 prefectures. The Annual Japan Sake Awards for the 2021 brewing year running from July 2021 through June 2022 were announced on May 25 by the National Research Institute of Brewing, which is based in Higashihiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture. Fukushima grabbed the most top prizes on a prefectural basis for the ninth successive time, extending its own record, and 11th time overall. No gold prize was given in the 2019 contest due to the coronavirus epidemic. Fukushima's unparalleled record demonstrates the high-level technicality of brewing and product quality in the prefecture. The number of gold-winning brands in Fukushima was the same as the previous year. Two breweries received the honor for the first time -- Ariga Jozo in Shirakawa city and Otokoyama Shuzoten in the town of Aizumisato. Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative in Nihonmatsu city and Nagurayama Sake Brewing Co. in Aizuwakamatsu city both clinched gold for the 13th straight time, while Higashinihonshuzo won for the 19th time overall, a record for a single brewery. From Fukushima, a total of 32 brands received awards, including the 17 gold winners, the most of any prefecture. Behind Fukushima on the list of gold winners were Akita and Hyogo prefectures with 13 each. The annual contest is the country's only national-level competition for new sake brews. It is hosted jointly by the institute and the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and has been held 110 times. Entries are limited to one brand per brewer of the "ginjoshu" type -- made from highly polished rice, malted rice, water and additional brewing alcohol. The latest contest saw 826 brands from across the nation enter. After the preliminary round of blind tasting in April and the May 12-13 final round, 405 brands received prizes, with 205 claiming gold. (Translated by Kyodo News)