The Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Contest 2024

The official hub page for the UKBG and Japanese Sake and Shochu Makers Association’s collaborative contest and seminar series.  Here you will find the full info, the latest news and information regarding entry, rules and eligibility.

The UK Bartenders’ Guild holds the competition in partnership with the Japanese Sake & Shochu Makers Association (JSS) and is the third annual Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Contest held to drive awareness of the versatility and taste these unique spirits can provide and follows the growing success of the competition.
This year’s event focuses again on the Honkaku Shochu and Awamori, which are a characteristic pair of Japanese spirits that hold a significant cultural relevance in the country, and are produced with a microorganism called koji-kin, a type of mould indigenous to Japan.
Developed as a collaboration between the two organisations, the competition and seminar continues the Guild’s goal of heightening the profile of the Japanese drinks industry in the UK and inspiring talented artists to craft new, innovative creations with the versatile spirits.
As with last year, the entrants will be free to impart their own style on the competition, utilising their talents and knowledge to enhance and develop on the profile of the spirits and their flavours.
This year’s tasting session is led by Christopher Pellegrini founder of Honkaku Spirits and a leading expert on the Japanese drinks industry and a shochu & awamori expert, author and podcast host, Christopher honed his skills as a brewer at Otter Creek Brewing Company in Middlebury, Vermont before becoming a full-time professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. 
Christopher was also the first person to be certified by the Sake Service Institute as a Shochu Kikisakeshi (specialist) in Japan and as a Shochu Advisor by the Sake School of America.


The Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Seminar

Accompanying the competition will be a tasting session that will take place on the 12th of February att 11.30 am, with Christopher Pellegrini, Founder of Honkaku Spirits and a leading expert on the Japanese drinks industry.

You can request a FREE Shochu & Awamori sample pack until midnight on 04.02.24.

There are a limited companion kits available, which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. If all the kits have been allocated, you can still register, watch the seminar and attend the online tasting.

By signing up for the tasting session, you will gain exclusive access to this year’s highly anticipated Don Lee seminar. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out. Simply register, request your package and check on the confirmation email for the link.  
And if you’re looking to brush up on your skills, you can also watch last year’s seminars, by clicking the links below.

The Theme – The Vibe

The Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Contest is centred around two of Japan’s most characterful and culturally important distilled spirits. Honkaku Shochu and Awamori are produced with a micro-organism called koji-kin, a type of mould indigenous to Japan.
This year we are leaving the theme in the hands of our entrants. It needs to emphasise the style of the spirit used and develop the drink around its flavours. The masterclass will teach you how to work around these caracteristics. Our primary goal is to showcase these carefully crafted spirits the best we can.


By clicking below, you can watch last year’s competition and gain inspiration that will fuel your passions. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see some of the most talented individuals showcase their skills. Start watching now!



The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association was established in 1953 to support the Japanese Government in securing revenue from liquor taxation, ensuring safe and secure liquor business transactions, and developing the sector.
It is a voluntary organisation comprising nearly every maker of Japanese alcoholic drinks in the country. There are a total of 1,708 members, which include 1,422 Sake producers, 273 Honkaku Shochu producers, and 13 mirin producers. (Date as of March 2019).
As the only official industry organisation for Japan’s national alcoholic drinks, its core aim is to promote Sake, Honkaku Shochu, and Awamori both domestically and in overseas markets.



Don Lee

Don Lee, globally-renowned New York-based bartender, educator and JSS Ambassador. Founding judge of the Ultimate Beverage Challenge, a teaching fellow for the Beverage Alcohol Resource.​

Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher Pellegrini, founder of Honkaku Spirits and a leading expert on the Japanese drinks industry and a shochu & awamori expert, author and podcast host. ​