The Sake Challenges’ panel of judges – often local Sake Sommeliers – use a combination of their experience and expertise judge entrees across 5 criteria.

These criteria provide breweries with feedback across a range of areas including the quality, taste, and presentation of their sake, as well as the design of the packaging; with the aim of selecting and celebrating the very best sake the world has to offer. This is an opportunity for breweries and sommeliers alike to see where different sake rank on a global stage.

All entered sake products will be judged by Certified Sake Sommeliers judges chosen by the host of their Sake Challenge. Each sake tasted is scored individually, not in comparison to other entrees.

After the professional tasting the sake will then be judged for label elegance and packaging. In order to guarantee a fully objective judgement, the individual scores given by the jury members will be combined and averaged to attain a total score for each sake.

How We Score

Scores are indicated by stars from 0-10 as follows:

  • 0 stars (Does not meet the standard of the challenge)
  • 1-2 stars (Fair)
  • 3-4 stars (Good)
  • 5-6 stars (Very Good) – Silver Medal
  • 7-8 stars (Highly recommended) – Gold Medal
  • 9-10 stars (Outstanding) – Platinum Medal

The sensory quality of each sake is measured along the following criteria:

  • The Nose to discover the bouquet and aroma.
  • The Eye to determine the intensity, appearance, type, and brilliance of the product.
  • The Mouth to reveal the flavour and taste.
  • The Harmony of the nose and length in the mouth to inform the final overall appraisal of the product.
  • The Elegance of the product’s packaging will also be judged and advice on presentation will be to help successfully introduce the sake to the local market (marked separate to overall assessment)


Once marked, submitted sake is awarded one of the four possible designations from the Sake Challenge:

  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Bronze

Entered sake is not guaranteed to win an award at a Sake Challenge, if it does not earn a high enough score.

We believe that judging sake is as difficult as judging wine (if not even more so!), and as such the SSA ensures that all judges are suitably well-trained to review the Sake Challenge entries. All Sake Challenge Judges have earned either their Certified, Advanced or Master Sake Sommeliers qualifications.

We at the Sake Sommelier Association take great pride in our passion and experience with Sake Challenges. We strive to treat sake with the same love and respect as the master brewers who craft it.