This year's National New Sake Tasting Competition, or Zenkoku Shinshu Kampyoukai, just wrapped up in Hiroshima. This historically and culturally significant event has been held since 1910, and Japan is the only country in the world that runs such a competition for the indigenous alcoholic beverage.

Although not all the 1,600-odd sakagura in the country submit sake to the tasting, over 1,000 of them did this year. These sake are judged in two rounds, kind of like preliminaries and finals. In the final round, the top scorers are awarded gold medals. This year, 289 such prizes were awarded.

Note that about a quarter of the entries won gold prizes; this is typical of recent years' results. Keep in mind that all of the sake submitted were specially brewed only for this contest, and all were created using incredibly labor-intensive techniques. These sake, in other words, are already the best of the best of the best.