International Wine Challenge

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The International Wine Challenge (IWC) owned by William Reed Business Media is now in its 35th year. The IWC is accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges and awards include medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended awards

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Elly Barham-Marsh Helen Kenny
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International Wine Challenge

International Wine Challenge announces 2015 Sake Trophies, as international popularity soars

International Wine Challenge announces 2015 Sake Trophies

  • Seventeen Sake receive much-coveted IWC trophy
  • Fantastic result for Fukushima, with three Trophies being awarded to its Sake
  • Three Great Value Sake Awards announced
  • Trophy wins will catapult Sake breweries to an international stage

The International Wine Challenge today names its 2015 Sake Trophy winners, awarding 17 Japanese Sake in total. The International Wine Challenge Sake competition, sponsored by Japan Airlines, is now in its ninth year, and continues to expand its reach as Sake becomes more popular the world over.

  • Seven of the trophies were awarded to Sake created in Fukushima and Yamagata in the Tohoku region of Japan, historically one of the country’s primary Sake producing areas
  • The region was hit by a huge earthquake four years ago, killing more than 20,000 people and destroying over 250 Sake breweries
  • While the Fukushima region struggled to return to its former glory, the people of Japan rallied to support the region and help in its recovery, continuing to purchase Sake from the area as a symbol of support
  • In a fantastic result for the region, three Sake produced in Fukushima were awarded with a total of three IWC Sake Trophies, representing a turning point for the recovering region

The IWC is delighted to announce Sake Trophies in each category as follows:

Sparkling Sake

Ichinokura Co Ltd in Miyagi picked up the Sparkling Sake Trophy with its Ichinokura Suzane Wabi. The sparkling Sake category was added as a competition category just last year, as this new style continues to grow in popularity throughout Japan and beyond.


Daisekkei Josen from Daisekkei Sake Brewing in Nagano was awarded the regional Nagano Futsu-shu  Trophy. The category was won by Yumegokoro Futsu-shu from the Yumegokoro Sake Brewery and has won the Futsu-shu category and therefore the Futsu-shu Trophy.


Ura-gasanryu Koka from Shindo Sake Brewery in Yamagata has been awarded the regional trophy of the Yamagata Honjozo Trophy.

The Honjozo Trophy was awarded to the Takeda Shuzo Brewery in Niigata for its Katafune Tokubetu Honkozo. 


The regional Trophy has been awarded to Tokubetsu Junmai Sasamasamune from the Sasamasamune Brewery in Fukushima receives the Fukushima Junmai Trophy.

But the Category winner is Narutotai Kishu Mizu-to-Kome from Honke Matsuura Brewing Co. from Tokushima wins the Junmai Trophy.

Junmai Daiginjo

Two Sake have been awarded regional trophies as follows:

  • Miinokotobuki Junmai  Daiginjo Fuku from the Inoue Gomei Co in Fukuoka has been awarded the Fukuoka Junmai Daiginjo Trophy.
  • Junmai Ginjo Munemasa -15 by Munemasa Shuzo in Saga has been awarded the Saga Junmai Ginjo Trophy.
  • But the Junmai Daiginjo Trophy was awarded to: Aizu Homare Banshu Yamadanishiki Junmai Daiginjo from the Homare Sake Brewery in Fukushima.

Ginjo and Gingio Daiginjo

In this highly competitive category the judges awarded 4 regional Trophies and one category winner:

  • Dewazakura Oka Ginjo from Dewazakura Sake Brewery in Yamagata was awarded the Yamagata Ginjo Trophy.
  • Ichidai Misen Daiginjo Shizukuzake from Chugoku Jozo in Hiroshima is awarded the Hiroshima Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy.
  • Aiyu Daiginjo from Aiyu Shuzo  in Ibaraki has been awarded the Ibraki Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy.
  • Kid Daiginjo from Heiwa Shuzo in Wakayama also received a regional trophy, the Wakayama Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy.
  • But the Category winner of the Ginjo and Daiginjo Trophy 2015 is: Kurouzaemon Omachi from the Shindo Sake Brewery in Yamagata.


Hanahato Kijoshu aged for 8 years 2006 from the Enoki Shuzo Co Ltd in Hiroshima has been awarded the Hiroshima Koshu Trophy.

However, the Category winner and the award of Koshu Trophy goes to: Born – A Wakening of The Angel 2001 from Katoukichebee Shouten in Fukui.

Three Sake have been awarded ‘Great Value Sake’, sponsored by the Sake Samurai Association, as follows:

  • Great Value Futsu-shu – Yumegokoro Futsu-shu, from the Yumegokoro Sake Brewery in Fukushima.
  • Great Value Honjozo –  Ginrei Gassan Honjozo from Gassan Sake Brewery in Yamagata.
  • Great Value Junmai – Shichiken Hurinbizan Junmai from Yamanashi Meijo Co. in Yamanashi.

All Sake qualify as great Value Sake as they have been awarded a Gold or Silver Medal, Cost less then Y1000 in Japan, produce more than 100k bottles and will be nationally available in Japan.

All the trophy winners were awarded Gold medals last week, when the competition awarded a total of 43 Gold medals in a record year of success for the Sake. A panel of 56 multinational judges blind tasted 876 entries throughout the competition, the highest number of entries the Sake Challenge has ever received. Nine different prefectures received the much-coveted Gold medals, as Sake continues to increase in popularity and diversity.


Chris Ashton, IWC Sake Event Director commented:

“These trophy winning examples are truly outstanding and awarding them gives the IWC Sake judges particular pleasure given the struggles these regions have faced. These trophy wins are a symbol of the region’s continued recovery and it is wonderful to see these breweries back on top.”

Chris Ashton, IWC Sake Event Director commented continued:

“This has been a fantastic year for Sake at the competition. We have received more entries than ever before, and the quality continues to improve and astound our judges. These trophy winning Sake will be catapulted to an international stage, and are guaranteed to encourage more people to explore this versatile and exciting beverage.”

Please click below for full press release and hi resolution images.

Attached Files