This week sees the release of the results for the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition 2021’s Shochu Division. Amami Islands’ famed kokuto sugar shochu has won the top position for the second year running.Like the Western Spirits Division whose results were announced last week, the Shochu Division judging was conducted entirely remotely. 84 judges covered 255 entries, producing 17 Superior Gold winners, 64 Gold winners, 100 Silver winners, and 40 Bronze winners.
As has been the case since its inception, one of the goals of the Shochu Division at TWSC is providing makers with a “Western” perspective on their products. So it’s understandable that the judge pool included many Western spirits experts alongside shochu and sake people.
This year’s Best of the Best winner is Benisango from Amami Oshima Kaiun Shuzo, a company known best as the maker of Japan’s most readily available kokuto sugar shochu, Lento. While Lento is famously tank-aged while listening to classical music, Benisango takes a more Western approach, being aged in white oak casks. There’s also the abv: Lento is 25%, and Benisango is 40%.
This means kokuto sugar shochu, as a category, is now a two-time winner of the Best of the Best for TWSC. Check out my review of last year’s winner here.
For TWSC 2021, just like the Western Spirits Division, I participated in both the first and second rounds of judging for the Shochu Division. The full list of winners is now available on the TWSC homepage, but here’s the top 10, score-wise:
- Benisango (Kokuto Sugar)
- Kodai Ikko (Rice)
- Den-en Envelhecida (Sweet Potato)
- Hyakunen no Kodoku (Barley)
- Yaesen Taruchozo (Awamori)
- Tenshi no Yuuwaku (Sweet Potato)
- Tied for 7th – Sato no Akebono Gold (Kokuto Sugar, and last year’s #1)
- Tied for 7th – Shasha Rakuraku Kin (Sweet Potato)
- Tied for 9th – Barrel Long-term Storage Barley Shochu Owl (Barley)
- Tied for 9th – Sennen no Hibiki (Awamori)
Congratulations to all the winners! More details are available in the English press releases as well.
TWSC 2021 was the first competition to feature a cohort of non-Japanese judges, including the Shochu Division. So thanks to Stephen and Christopher of The Japan Distilled Podcast, Maya of Bar Roku, and Joshin of SG Group for offering their judging expertise!
Hi there! I created and run nomunication.jp. I’ve lived in Tokyo since 2008, and I am a certified Shochu Kikisake-shi/Shochu Sommelier (焼酎唎酒師), Cocktail Professor (カクテル検定１級), and I hold Whisky Kentei Levels 3 and JW (ウイスキー検定３級・JW級). I also sit on the Executive Committees for the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition and Japanese Whisky Day. Click here for more details about me and this site. Kampai!