In another sign that shochu is becoming more popular in the U.S., Ememt, Inc. has announced the first ever New York Shochu & Awamori Tasting Contest to coincide with the upcoming NY Shochu Experience.
During the Qualifying Rounds at each restaurant (Monday, February 6 to Saturday February 11) the contestants will go through 2 rounds of 5 shochu. During each round they will taste the 5 shochu or Awamori (8ml pours) with the bottles in front of them. Once they’re ready, the 5 glasses will be cleared away (bottles remain) and 3 new “blind” glasses will return. They then have to match each of these to the bottles to earn points.
Match 1: 1 point
Match 2: 4 points
Match 3: 10 points
This happens again in a 2nd round with 5 new shochu or Awamori, so the maximum number of points is 20: perfect match in each round. The lowest possible score is, of course, 0.
The top three finishers at each restaurant will earn gift certificates ($200, $100, $50) and will be invited to the Final Round at the Hotel Kitano on Wednesday, February 15th (7-9pm) where 48 contestants will compete in a final tasting contest to win the grand prize, $2,000 and 2 round trip tickets to Japan! That’s about a $4,400 grand prize. Not small change. The winner will also be crowned the first shochu tasting contest winner in New York City history (there can only ever be one inaugural winner).
First and second runner ups get prizes too. $500 & 1 round trip ticket to Japan for 1st runner up & $250 & 1 Japan Railways Pass for 2nd runner up. Again, nice prizes.
The catch is that this is not free. Contestants pay $30 for entry. For that they get about 5 oz of shochu and Awamori, a serving of edamame, and 2 free drinks. Since shochu can cost $6 to $15 per glass this is pretty much in line with what you’d pay for 2-3 drinks and a serving of edamame. Of course, when you do that you don’t have a chance to win $4,000+ in prizes and go to Japan!
If you know you want to participate, you can pre-register at the restaurant of your choice. CLICK HERE