JAPANESE
Ranking the most highly rated
sake breweries by global contest results.

WORLD SAKAGURA RANKING 2023

About the World Sakagura Ranking

World Sakagura Ranking Concept

This system assigns points to awards from international sake contests, and ranks the winners accordingly. There are over 1,500 sakagura around the world now, and this ranking only applies to the top 50 scorers. As this system makes it difficult to achieve ranking without a high level of resolve to develop a sakagura’s business, as well as investing in equipment, skills, ingredients, and staff, we find it strongly represents real quality.

Naturally, readers should understand that since the ranking is based on contest results, any sakagura that doesn't submit to the contests will not be ranked.

All of the contests including in the scoring are judged through blind tasting evaluation by professionals, rather than a popular vote. The ranking is all the more trustworthy because the number of submissions, number of awards, judges, and judging method are all public.

Recently, sake contests are no longer limited to Japan alone, but have been happening all over the world. These international venues offer excellent opportunities to understand local tastes, to teach ambassadors who will help spread interest in sake, and create new fans. We hope to support the accurate and fair evaluation of sake as these continue.

Now, one does also wonder why sakagura submit to contests in the first place. After interviewing many kuramoto, or brewery owners, who do so, we've found the three biggest reasons are:

  1. Contest Submission allows an objective assessment of their sake.
  2. Awards can build confidence within the sakagura and increase motivation.
  3. An award can help promote business.

One could say that the active pursuit of contest submissions is a sign that the kuramoto is dedicated to growth and development.

This ranking is presented to offer a guide to those who are unsure of how to choose a sake. The awards are given to individual products, and it's not uncommon for a product that receives a big award to sell out almost immediately. However, buyers also often find that shelves might be empty of an award winning label, but still hold others from the same sakagura. In that situation, this sakagura ranking can offer an objective guide to choosing sake made by award winning sakagura. By focusing on products from sakagura that earn a lot of points can make it easier to choose, and is likely to help increase the chances at finding delicious sake.

Point Tallying Method

Points are figured based on awards from eligible contests, and a total of up to 3 high scores in each category each contest are calculated for each sakegura. Each sakagura is then awarded an additional score for awards in the Annual Japan Sake Awards (Zenkoku Shinshu Kanpyokai) and in The Sake Awards by each regional taxation bureau of the National Tax Agency of Japan before ranking.

Eligible Contest Awards & Point Tallies

The Annual Japan Sake Awards

This is the longest-running sake competition in Japan, and is sponsored by the National Research Institute of Brewing and Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association. By evaluating all of the year's new sake, this competition helps to clarify the current level of manufacturing technique, sake quality, and modern trends all over Japan, which can help support the further improvement of sake brewing.

Note: When a single brewery submits products from multiple facilities, only the single highest award is added to point totals.

Point Tallies:

  • GOLD
    70 Points
  • SILVER
    50 Points

The Sake Awards by each regional taxation bureau of the National Tax Agency of Japan

11 sake competitions are held by the taxation bureaus of each area. (Sapporo Sake Awards、Tohoku Sake Awards、Kanto-Shinetsu Sake Awards、Tokyo Regional Sake Awards、Kanazawa Regional Taxation Bureau Sake Awards、Tokai Sake Awards、Osaka Sake Awards、Hiroshima Sake Awards、Shikoku Sake Awards、North Kyusyu Sake and Shochu Awards、South Kyushu Sake and Shochu Awards)
Since each regional competition has different judging categories, points are awarded for the "Ginjo (Sake)" category, which is common to all.

Official Website
Sapporo Regional Taxation Bureau
Sapporo Sake Awards
Sendai Regional Taxation Bureau
Tohoku Sake Awards
Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Taxation Bureau
Kanto-Shinetsu Sake Awards
Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau
Tokyo Regional Sake Awards
Kanazawa Regional Taxation Bureau
Kanazawa Regional Taxation Bureau Sake Awards
Nagoya Regional Taxation Bureau
Tokai Sake Awards
Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau
Osaka Sake Awards
Hiroshima Regional Taxation Bureau
Hiroshima Sake Awards
Takamatsu Regional Taxation Bureau
Shikoku Sake Awards
Fukuoka Regional Taxation Bureau
North Kyusyu Sake and Shochu Awards
Kumamoto Regional Taxation Bureau
South Kyushu Sake and Shochu Awards

Point Tallies:

  • Prize (Gold , Honor Prize , The Excellence Prize , Awarded Breweries , Prize Winner)
    50 Points

Kan Sake Award

This award is intended to recognize the unique way that drinking sake warmed, called kanzake, can help to increase the perception of umami while softening mouthfeel.

Point Tallies:

  • GRAND GOLD
    50 Points
  • GOLD
    30 Points

The Fine Sake Award, Japan

This contest was established to spread the practice drinking sake from wine glasses for increased consumption at non-Japanese restaurants, in foreign markets, and among younger drinkers.

Point Tallies:

  • GRAND GOLD
    50 Points
  • GOLD
    30 Points

Kura Master

This sake competition is run by French sponsors for French customers, and the judges include professional sommeliers working in France. One goal of this competition is to help increase the acceptance of sake as an accompaniment to French cuisine, in consideration of how well it matches gourmet cuisine of all sorts.

Point Tallies:

  • PLATINUM MEDAL
    50 Points
  • GOLD MEDAL
    30 Points
  • Special Points
    President's Prize
    50 Points
  •  
    Jury Prize
    (Highest Category Award)
    30 Points
  •  
    Top 16 Rank Any Category
    20 Points
  •  
    Finalists
    10 Points
  •  
    Alliance Gastronomique
    30 Points

International Wine Challenge (IWC)

The IWC is the world's largest wine competition. The sake category was established to help increase awareness and drinking of sake abroad. It was introduced in 2007, and the World Sakagura Ranking now includes all sakes that have been recognized since then.

Point Tallies:

  • GOLD
    50 Points
  • SILVER
    30 Points
  • BRONZE
    20 Points
  • COMMENDED
    5 Points
  • Special Points
    Champion Trophy (Top Prize)
    50 Points
  •  
    Trophy (Top Category Prize)
    30 Points
  •  
    Regional Trophy
    (Second Highest Category Prize)
    20 Points
  •  
    Champion Great Value
    (Top of The Great Value)
    10 Points
  •  
    Great Value
    (Particularly good ones with a retail price of less than 1000 yen per 720 ml.)
    5 Points
  •  
    Sake Brewer of the Year
    30 Points

U.S. National Sake Appraisal

The U.S. National Sake Appraisal has been held annually since 2001 and is the oldest sake appraisal conducted outside Japan. Eleven judges -usually nine from Japan and two from the U.S.- evaluate approximately 500 sake entries over three days following traditional Japanese judging procedures. Following the Appraisal all entries are presented for public tasting at The Joy of Sake in New York and Honolulu.

Point Tallies:

  • GOLD
    30 Points
  • SILVER
    15 Points
  • Special Points
    Grand Prix
    30 Points
  •  
    Second Grand Prix
    20 Points

MILANO SAKE CHALLENGE

The sake contest is judged in Milan, Italy by Italian sommeliers, bartenders, and other experts in the fields of sake and food, who are also certified sake sommeliers. In addition to sake tasting, the food pairing judging with Italian cuisine popular among Japanese people, and package design judging by designers in Milan, a city of fashion and design.

Point Tallies:

  • PLATINUM
    50 Points
  • DOUBLE GOLD
    40 Points
  • GOLD
    30 Points
  • SILVER
    10 Points
  • BRONZE
    5 Points
  • Special Points
    Best Food Pairing
    5 Points
  •  
    Parmigiano Reggiano Special prize
    15 Points

Star (★) Ranking

All breweries from 1st to 50th place are awarded a star ranking. The star rankings are divided by range, as follows.

★★★★★
1st to 10th Place
★★★★
11th to 20th Place
★★★
21st to 30th Place
★★
31st to 40th Place
41st to 50th Place

Winning Sakagura Ranking WORLD SAKAGURA RANKING

These Sakagura Rankings are based on results earned at the year's sake contests, so the more awards won the more points awarded.
To recognize breweries that can consistently offer high quality sake, we list here the top 50 winners.

We announce Top 10 rankings in early December.

Breweries that have been ranked first place so far

2019 Shimizu Seizaburo Shoten Ltd.
2020 Watanabe Sake Brewery Co., Ltd.
2021 Hachinohe Shuzo Co.,Ltd.
2022 NIIZAWA SAKE BREWERY Co.,Ltd.

PAST RANKING

  1. 2022
  2. 2021
  3. 2020
  4. 2019
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