17 brands win at sake awards; tops for 8th consecutive year(福島県産日本酒8連覇 金賞17銘柄)

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, right, and Yoshihiro Ariga, chairman of the Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative, celebrate their prefecture’s success at the Annual Japan Sake Awards.(8回連続の日本一を喜ぶ内堀雅雄知事(右)と県酒造組合の有賀義裕会長)

 The National Research Institute of Brewing in Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, announced on May 21 the results of the Annual Japan Sake Awards competition, which judged the quality of sake produced in the 2020 brewing year (July 2020 to June 2021).
 This is the eighth consecutive competition in which Fukushima ranked atop the Gold Prizes table, this time tying Nagano Prefecture with 17 brands each.


 In the 2019 sake brewing year, the final judging was canceled due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, so this was the first time in two years that Gold Prizes were awarded. With the triumphant return, Fukushima secured its 10th overall victory, and extended its winning streak to a record eight consecutive years.


 This year's competition received 821 entries from all over Japan, with 207 of the 413 winning entries selected for Gold Prizes by the judges. By prefecture, Akita and Niigata won 13 Gold Prizes, followed by Yamagata with 12 and Tochigi and Hyogo with 10.
 Fukushima Prefecture had the third-highest number of prize-winning brands with 32, after Nagano's 36 and Niigata's 33.


 Senkomasyuzo Corp. in Shirakawa won a Gold Prize for the first time in 14 years. Hanaharushuzo Corp. in Aizu-Wakamatsu won its first Gold Prize since the transfer of its brewing business to a new company in September 2016.
 Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative in Nihonmatsu, which produces the sake brand Okunomatsu, won a Gold Prize this year, the cooperative's 12th consecutive win (18th overall), while Nagurayama Sake Brewery Co. in Aizu-Wakamatsu also won a Gold Prize for the 12th consecutive time (14th overall).
 In the midst of a decline in sake consumption, especially in restaurants due to COVID-19 business restrictions, breweries in Fukushima have overcome difficulties to further enhance their fame as a sake production center.


 Governor: Wonderful news
 At the unveiling ceremony of the commemorative panel held at the prefectural government office on the same day, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori praised the achievements of the breweries in the prefecture.
 "This is wonderful and bright news amid so much dark news," Uchibori said. "Everyone's efforts are the top runners in the reconstruction of Fukushima [from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake] and the eradication of harmful rumors [lingering from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant]."


 Yoshihiro Ariga, chairman of the Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative, who unveiled the panel together with Uchibori, said, "Achieving Japan's No. 1 ranking for the eighth time in a row will be an opportunity to promote Fukushima as a 'sake superpower,' even though the industry is in a very difficult situation due to requests for restaurants to shorten business hours [to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus]."


Fukushima's Gold Prize winning sake
・Senkoma Daiginjyo
・Aizu Yoshinogawa
・Kaitou Otokoyama

( Translated by The Japan News )

・千駒 大吟醸

 【 2021年5月22日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】