[TWSC2021] Going global with hybrid judging

It’s official: the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition is happening again in 2021! While the 2020 competition was held remotely due to coronavirus, 2021 introduces a hybrid judging method with both remote and in-person sessions.

TWSC is happening for the third year in a row! The competition is still in its infancy, but the team is also rapidly responding to new norms imposed by coronavirus.

First, the official press releases. You’ll find details about that hybrid judging process and plenty more in these. But to summarize, the first round of judging will be remote, the second round an in-person session with a reduced judge pool, then best-of-the-best will be finalized remotely.

TWSC2021 Official Announcement: Western spirits professionals judge whisky and spirits from around the world

TWSC2021 Official Announcement: Evaluating Shochu from a Western Spirits Professional Perspective

One of the major objectives for 2021’s competition is generating more international exposure for the competition, and in turn the entrants. This is where I come in: I have officially joined the TWSC Executive Committee.

In 2020 a division for Japan’s native spirit, shochu, was added to TWSC. Japanese whisky may be all the rage, especially for readers of this site, but shochu is eager to become Japan’s next export success story. And the Japanese government is happy to help!

As you may have surmised, I’m completely onboard with that plan. Shochu is admittedly something of an acquired taste. But I promise you’ll pick up quickly.

One of my first duties in the Executive Committee was assembling a team of Japan-based non-Japanese experts in spirits, both Western and shochu. This team will participate as judges in the 2021 competition, adding an international perspective of the entries.

So where does nomunication.jp fit in to all that?

I hope to contribute to the growing body of English-language information about Japanese spirits, including shochu. For shochu specifically, there are already other fantastic sites like shochu.us by Stephen Lyman (@shochu_danji) and shochu.pro by Christopher Pellegrini. Here at this site, I can add more context, such as considering shochu in cocktails, vs. other Japanese spirits, and vs. other global spirits.

Transparency is also one of the goals of TWSC2021, so I hope to be able to provide more insight into what happens behind-the-scenes of the competition. How are the entries actually judged, how are they scored, and why does a particular entry get chosen for an award? This is less of a language or culture issue, and more of a spirits competition issue.

I hope you are all looking forward to TWSC2021 as much as I am!

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