International Wine Challenge

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About International Wine Challenge

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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The International Wine Challenge Digital Newsroom is a simple and useful resource for you to keep track of all the latest news stories. High resolution images and complete press releases are available to download from here, and you can connect with our various social media profiles easily. Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Contact Details

Elly Barham-Marsh Helen Kenny
Manifest London
t. +44 (0)203 1379 270

International Wine Challenge


International Wine Challenge announces 18 Trophies and the first Great Value Sake

This year, the International Wine Challenge Sake competition, sponsored by Japan Airlines, was the biggest ever competition with 725 sake submitted. 2014 also marked the first step towards a truly international sake competition, with entries from Norway, USA and Canada.

  • 40 International judges also attended, with the IWC’s unique 50/50 Japanese / Non-Japanese judging panel supported by the Sake Samurai Association in London on the 14 and 15th of April.
  • IWC Trophies are awarded to those Gold medal Sakes that the judges feel should be recognised further. Initially the sake are re-tasted to find a sub-regional Trophy based on the breweries home town. If there are several Sake designated a higher quality, those will be awarded a Prefecture (Regional) based Trophy. Then those ‘Prefecture’ Sake winners will be tasted against each other to find a Category Trophy.
  • All Category Trophy winning Sake have been tasted against watch other to find the Champion Sake that will be announced at the IWC Awards dinner on the 16th July in London.
  • 2014 also saw the introduction of two new sake categories – Ordinary Sake (Futsu-shu) and the relatively new phenomenon of Sparkling Sake. Both fared well.
  • Each category was judged independently, so no comparison was made across different categories.
  • Therefore, while the Ordinary Sake was judged on the same criteria as other categories – yeast, rice polish rate and the addition of alcohol – it was not competing against the more premium sake.

The results are as follows:

IWC Great Value Sake sponsored by the Sake Samurai Association

  • History has also been made and for the first time a Great Value Sake Award for a sake with a high production (over 100k bottles), low price (less than ¥ 1000), also widely available throughout Japan and a high quality (Gold or Silver medal) has been awarded to Asahiyama Senjuhai from Asahi Shuzo Co. Ltd in Niigata

Ordinary Sake Trophy

  • The first ever Trophy awarded to an Ordinary Sake was won by Jousen Hourai from Watanabe Shuzouten from the Gifu prefecture.

Sparkling Sake Trophy

  • The first ever IWC Trophy medals for Sparkling Sake is awarded to Junmai Ginjo-shu Origarami by Tenzan Shuzo in Saga.
  • The judges also awarded the Miyagi Sparkling Sake Trophy to Haginotsuru Junmai Shikenjozoshu by Shikenjozoshu Hagino Shuzou

Honjozo Trophy

  • The Honjozo Trophy was awarded to Honjozo Myokosan from Myoko.
  • Also the Fukuoka Honjozo Trophy is awarded to Honjozo Shouden from Kitaya, last year’s Champion Sake maker now showing quality across their range of sake

Junmai Trophy

  • The Junmai Trophy was awarded to Isojiman Tokubetsu Junmai Omachi by Isojiman Premium Sake Brewery in Yaizu City
  • Junmai Daiginjo Trophy
  • Two Junmai Daiginjo Trophies were awarded as follows:
  • The Junmai Daiginjo Trophy is awarded to Ginrei Gassan Junmai Daiginjo by Gassan Sake Brewery in Yamagata.
  • The Fukushima Junmai Daiginjo Trophy is awarded Hiroki JunmaiDaiginjo by Hiroki Shuzouhonten in Aizu Bange Cho.

Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy:

  • Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy was awarded to Toko Daiginjo Yamadanishiki by Kojima Sohonten
  • The Akita Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy to Daiginjo Fukukomachi by Kimura Brewery
  • The Tendo Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy was awarded Dewazakura Yuki Manman by Dewazakura Sake Brewery
  • The Katamagi Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy was awarded to Taiheizan Daiginjo Juhonen by Kodama Brewing
  • The Kainan Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy was awarded Kido Daiginjo by Heiwa Shouzou in Wakayama
  • The Sakata Ginjo Daiginjo Trophy was awarded Kikuisami Daiginjo Hiden by Kikuisami

Koshu Trophy

  • The Koshu Trophy has been awarded to Jukusei Koshu Hidanohana Suiou by Hirata Shuzojou from Gifu
  • The Akita Koshu Trophy has been awarded to Yamabuki Gold by Kinmon Akita Shuzo Co Ltd
  • The Hiroshima Koshu Trophy has been awarded Hanahato Kijoshu aged for 8 years by Enoki Shuzo


Sam Harrop, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:

“The calibre of sake has been outstanding at this year’s competition. The Trophy winners are absolutely stunning, increasing  in quality every year, making the judges decisions more difficult every year.

“If a consumer sees an IWC medal sticker on a bottle of sake, they can trust the quality of the product, as it has been tasted by some of the finest sake judges in the world,” explained Sam Harrop.

“Whether you are a sake novice or a seasoned expert, our stickers can help you choose great sake every time you shop,” he added.

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