Contest judging the awamori liquor that sleeps in households kicks off

Contest judging the awamori liquor that sleeps in households kicks off

Judges evaluating awamori from the “secret treasure group.” February 27, Okinawa Regional Taxation Office in Naha, Okinawa

February 28, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

A contest judging the awamori liquor that sleeps in Okinawan households kicked off at the Okinawa Regional Taxation Office in Naha February 27. The contest is evaluating 128 submissions collected through February 28 of awamori that has both been aging in a single bottle as well as awamori aged through a traditional aging method known as shitsugi. There is hope that the contest will scientifically confirm that shitsugi improves the quality of the liquor, and will lead to the spreading of the culture surrounding the home-aging method.

The contest is separated into three categories, the “secret treasure group,” that features awamori stored in a home without shitsugi aging, a “traditional shitsugi group,” for awamori at least 15 years old where, as the name suggests, the awamori is aged following the traditional shitsugi aging process. The process comprises storing awamori in three clay pots of differing ages, and once a year removing about a tenth of the oldest awamori, and replenishing it with the second-oldest, which is then replenished by the third-oldest, which in turn is replenished with new liquor. The third category is the “freestyle shitsugi group,” which comprises awamori aged for at least five years and having gone through shitsugi at least three times. Each entry is introduced with a testimonial from the submitter, proudly boasting of their quality and rarity such as, “It has been aging since before WWII.”

The first day of judging was for the secret treasure group, and the 19 judges include university professors, National Tax Agency (NTA) appraisers, and liquor producers. The judges check the color, swish the liquor in their mouths, and check the lingering smell from the small sake cups the awamori had been sitting in.
On April 25, the top selection will receive a commendation at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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