Last month, I gave an overview of the Shinshu Kanpyokai, the national new-sake tasting competition held each spring, and its logistics. Here is a look at what kind of sake wins, and what the big deal is about anyway.

Sake submitted to this yearly contest (known as shuppin-shu, which merely means "submitted sake") is very different from regular sake. It is made in small batches, with specially selected and prepared rice and yeast, fermented carefully. Although there is some flexibility in flavor and fragrance profiles, an incredible balance and precise set of qualities are sought.

Rarely, if ever, is junmai-shu submitted, as the tiny bit of added brewers alcohol permitted in nonjunmai sake allows the flavors and fragrances to become even more pronounced.