The Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Contest

The official hub page for the UKBG and Japanese Sake and Shochu Makers Association’s collaborative contest and seminar series. Full info, latest news and information on entry, rules and eligibility.

Honkaku Shochu and Awamori:

two traditional distilled spirits from Japan, with over five centuries of history, embodying the nation’s culture.

The UKBG has partnered with the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, for an incredibly inspiring seminar with industry leaders and a competition focussing on the two categories of Honkaku Shochu and Awamori.
The UKBG continues it’s fruitful partnership with the Japanese artisanal spirits community represeted by the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS).


Centred around two of Japan’s newly recognised distilled spirits categories of Honkaku Shochu and Awamori, we’re hosting an exclusive online seminar, leading to an in-person and livestreamed competition in partnership with some of Japan’s leading industry figures, and skilled artisanal brewers and distillers.


Our competition continues our goal of bringing Japanese beverage culture to new audiences, and inspiring bartending innovation. Bartenders are to create a Honkaku Shochu/Awamori-based cocktail that is truly inspired by Japanese drinking culture and the philosophy of MA – When Less Is More.

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.


Our seminars will cover production, flavour profiles, cocktail inspiration and much more – continuing our competition ethos of promoting learning and sharing knowledge.


In addition, we will also be encouraging competitors to embody and internalise the Japanese philosophy of MA – (pronounced “maah”) — the pure, essential void between all “things.”


A total lack of clutter, MA is akin to a holder within which things can exist, stand out and have meaning. MA is in the purposeful pauses in a speech which make words stand out. It is in the quiet time we all need to make our busy lives meaningful, and in the silence between the notes which make the music.


MA is what creates the peace of mind – Heijoshin in Japanese – space for our thoughts to truly exist.


Our contest looks to encourage competitors to strip away the unnecessary, to observe the space and time between flavours and ingredients and the openness within the guest experience that creates serenity. Competitors should learn from and embrace the philosophy of MA.


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The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS)

The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association was established in 1953 to support the Japanese Government in securing revenue from liquor taxation, ensure safe and secure liquor business transactions, and to develop the sector.

It is a voluntary organisation comprising of 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, it’s core aim is to promote Sake, Honkaku Shochu, and Awamori both domestically and in overseas markets.

Entry Overview

Updated 14..02.22

Official rules available here (updated  14.02.22) – Prizing Update

  • Entrants must attend register and attend the Honkaku Shochu and Awamori masterclass in order to enter to the competition
  • NB: Only UKBG members can subscribe to the competition. Membership signup is available here
  • It is not compulsory to be employed at the time of submission
  • Submissions must be entered by 27.02.22 and must include the below info and requirements:
    • Full Name
    • Upload photo of cocktail
    • Cocktail Name
    • Concept explained
    • Detail as to why a particular Shochu was used
    • Add story/idea behind drink creation
    • Full ingredients list including measurements and method of execution
    • Full method of infusion (if any)
    • Glass
    • Garnish
    • (OPTIONAL) A cocktail build video (optional)
  • Cocktail recipe must respect the following rules:
    • Contain at least 45ml of sponsored brand between Honkaku Shochu and Awamori
    • Respect and demonstrate the philosophy of MA
    • Only 1 home-made ingredient allowed and can only be an infusion of an existing product (e.g., syrup, liqueur etc…)
    • No alterations to sponsored brands
  • 8 applicants will be selected to take part in the Grand Final, which will be announced on 1st March, 2022
  • Successful applicants will be informed via email
  • Finalist competitors will be asked to present their cocktail in front of a panel of 3 industry experts
  • Finals Judging criteria include:
    • Demonstrating category knowledge
    • Engagement
    • Look & Appearance
    • Aroma & Taste
    • Throwing technique (elaborate throwing, accuracy, length, angle)
    • Contestant with the highest score will be crowned winner