Established in 2016, Tasting Trendies aim to highlight the enjoyment of quality alcoholic beverage. We love to share the joy of tasting different alcoholic beverages by organizing events. Our masterpiece is Tasting Trendies Sake Awards – the FIRST Sake competition in Hong Kong. Also we do wine & food pairing dinners, craft beer tasting seminars, sake tasting. We believe food pairing is an art. An art with no boundary which can merge different food & beverages cultures in the World.
Message from KsoArts Ltd., the Organizer
Summary of TTSA 2019 Results
Compared to the TTSA results of the past two years, the 2019 results have shown a surprising change in the Users’ tastes, posing staggering challenges for sakes in being awarded the titles of Champion, 1st and 2nd Runner-ups respectively.
We are delighted that as a result of our efforts in the past three years, the title “Tasting Trendies Sake Awards” have already become a household name in the local sake industry, thereby reinforcing our mission in finding out the changing taste/preference of Hong Kong people towards sake over time. This mission motivated me to work hard to establish the Award and diligently share each year’s findings through posting the TTSA results and conclusion. Moreover, we want to see if increased education about sake will have an impact on customers’ perception and preference for various sakes over time.
When our TTSA Head Judge, Mr Benny Lee presented awards at the first TTSA Awards Ceremony, he also mentioned that "taste" will change with time due to various factors such as trend, thus, the sake of the same label brewed by the same brewery may have different results each year! Take the example of the TTSA 2019 Champion which has participated from the first award competition back in 2017. That year, it won the bronze medal in the User Judge Group. It then received bronze medals both in the User Judge Group and the Expert Judge Group in 2018. In 2019, it won the gold award in both two Judge Groups. As a Junmai Ginjo, it has not only surpassed the Junmai Daiginjo(s) but is also awarded the Champion title! One factor to explain such a surprising result could be due to the fact that we have intentionally replaced the majority of Judges in the User Group with new members each year.
In review of the category of the Champion of these 3-years, Junmai Daiginjo won in 2017. A “Koshu”, which is a kind of 10-years old aged sake that is relatively unknown to the general public, won in 2018 while Junmai Ginjo won in 2019. It shows that the high-end customers in Hong Kong can either accept the taste of new products very easily or they actively look for something new in the market. We only need to concentrate on educating the Users the skills in recognizing the different characteristics and variety of sake and then these Users will be able to find their preferred sakes more easily. Moreover, in the end both professionals in the industry and end-users prefer something tasty and that are good value for money, and will not simply make their selection based on the 'lowest' price.
In the TTSA-Winning Sake Tour @ Washu Fes HK which was held at a mall located at Tsim Sha Tsui last September, I shared my experience with visitors at our counters on how and why I changed myself from being a casual drinker to a Kikisake-shi (sake sommelier) because of the uniqueness of sake. We were delighted in introducing new sake drinkers to taste those TTSA winning sakes and listening to their feedback. We realized that casual drinkers could be easily blown away by the sheer variety of sake on show. By referring to the award-winning sake medals of specific categories, our visitors could now choose their preferred type of sakes more easily. In doing so, we have also gained our visitors’ trust and support towards the work of TTSA because they are choosing sakes based on our TTSA Judges Groups’ recommendations. A lot of time and effort can be saved! In conclusion, our Judges’ tasks are really tough but very meaningful because the TTSA results can influence the buying decisions of these casual drinkers.
On an another note, last year we have followed the latest trend in brewing by adding a new category into the competition– Fruit Sake & Sparkling Sake. This year, we listened to breweries' opinion and added Modern Sake as a new category by including Shochu. We have covered more categories to increase fairness in judging. For example, entry level sake now competes with similar types of sake and the judging criteria are based on the characteristics of those specific types of sakes.
Meanwhile, we can use this opportunity to educate the market, including the new User Group Judges. Creating more award-winning sakes not only open up new opportunities for the sake market, it also gives the casual drinkers more choices, apart from wine, beer & spirits.
Another surprise this year is that Sparkling Sake won the 1st runner-up award while the 2nd runner-up is a fruit-flavor Sparkling Sake. All top three winners are in different styles!
It is gratifying to see that some of User Group Judges who initially did not know much about sake have increased their interest in sake and enjoyed sharing their experience with their peers, after having joined the annual elite training class. They also learnt to appreciate rather than criticize the masterpieces of various brewers by becoming a judge! The User Group Judges had given out 6 gold medals last year which have been increased to 14 gold medals this year. Perhaps the participating sake merchants have a better understanding of the taste of the users now?
Anyway, we are happy to witness all these new developments because they are in line with our goal since the first year, "Discovering various consumers' tastes and understanding the trends". We have not only organized a competition, but we can also learn more about the market changes by reviewing the annual summaries and sharing them with the industry and end-users!
Last but not least, I would like to offer my humble suggestions to the sake suppliers. Although the sake entries have been diversified, it appears that Hong Kong drinkers still prefer the Junmai series the most.
Anyhow, the door to the sake market is now open and I hope it will lead us to greater diversity and a more blooming market.
Project & Creative Director of KsoArts Ltd
Sake Sommelier (SSI Kikisake-shi)
The results of TTSA 2018 have been very encouraging!
Comparing to the results of the First-ever TTSA held last year, there are promising signs that show Hong Kong customers being highly receptive to Japanese sake. Thus, per our vision, a new segment of customers can be created as long as they are given the appropriate "education" .
Most of the medal winners of TTSA 2017 were Junmai Ginjo, Junmai Daiginjo but the Champion of TTSA 2018 which got the highest total scores from both the Expert Group and User Group is a Koshu! It also turned out that the 1st Runner-up is a Junmaishu, and not the Daiginjo or Ginjo, which is most popular to Hong Kong customers before. Moreover, the results between Expert Group and User Group came closer this year. This Result implies that HK customers' taste will be changed after having proper "education" and knowledge about the different varieties and styles of Japanese Sake.
Tomy, our Director of Judging Affairs, and myself are both Sake Sommelier (Kikisake-shi) and we love Japanese Sake after we have known the spectrum of it. Although HK currently is counted at the top ranking group in importing Japanese Sake, we found that the market has not yet been fully opened as quite a lot of drinkers have been suprised and impressed after having tasted different varieties and different 'styles' of Japanese Sake. Thus, we trust that with more education, supply or choices in variety of Japanese Sake, more sake lovers will be found.
Our Head Judge, Mr Benny Lee was invited to has conduct an "Elite Class" to those Judges of User Group on Judging Day. Thereafter, Tomy and I continued to a roadshow of "TTSA Tours" through Sake dinners, Sake tasting events as well as conducting media interviews, radio programs, etc., with the objective of educating the public about appreciation of different varieties of Japanese Sake. The differences in Results between of 2017 and 2018 reflected our missions in TTSA and the value of the role of a Kikisake-shi in Sake dining and tasting events.
95% (72%) of 122 Entries are awarded for TTSA 2018 Medals
Totally 244 (60) Awards will be presented:
115 (27) from Expert Group Judge
Gold: 5 (0) Silver: 45 (2) Bronze: 65 (25)
117 (30) from User Group Judge
Gold: 6 (5) Silver: 25 (7) Bronze: 86 (18)
( ) Data of TTSA 2017
7 new Awards of "The Best of (Category) " will be awarded for the Sake with the highest score in each category.
Final Champion, 1st Runner-up and 2nd Runner-up will be awarded for top 3 Sakes which got the highest scores in the total scores from Groups of Judges.
2 new Awards for recognition to Supplier and Brewery respectively:
Most Awards Supplier & Most Awards Brewery
Entries of TTSA 2018 has increased to 122 which is doubled of last year and 1/3 of the entries came directly from the Sake breweries. TTSA's reputation is growing fast and being recognized not only in HK but also in Japan. Increasing number of enquiries from Users to us for Suppliers of Entry have made us become a bridge between Users and Suppliers, thus reflecting the immediate effect of our mission. We will continue to move-up!
Million thanks to all participants! Without the 122 Entry Sakes nor professional contributions from the entire Expert Group judges and User Group judges, TTSA will not achieve such a high standard and will not be as well recognized as it is today. Without the invaluable and continuous support of our supporting units and our crews, the first-ever TTSA would not have happened. We sincerely appreciate their time and generosity in the delivery of TTSA. Let's give them all a big round of applause!
This is not to forget the TTSA Sake Night, which was another great success! Almost 300 people attended in the 4.5-hours event. Thank God! What an astonishing night. Special thanks to all exhibitors and professional services from the event venue. They have all have shown a huge passion in Sake!
Finally, we hope all the Award Winners will benefit from TTSA. More and more new Sake drinkers trust TTSA and try the Awarded Sakes, got to know these brands and fall in love with these Sakes with great satisfaction and pride!
See you in the upcoming TTSA Tours and TTSA 2019!
Project & Creative Director of KsoArts Ltd
Sake Sommelier (SSI Kikisake-shi)