**Updated January 1st, 2021
Sponsored by the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS), the Sake Future Summit was a nearly non-stop live broadcast starting at 11 AM JST on Saturday (Nov 21st) and running straight through until 6 PM Sunday (Nov 22nd).
And it’s 100% dedicated to kokushu (Japan’s national beverages)!
The Sake Future Summit’s (SFS) mission is to provide a weekend of English-language content for people all around the world. The 50-minute episodes were streamed live and later archived on YouTube.
Sake Future Summit 2020: Day 1 (Saturday November 21st) (YouTube link)
Sake Future Summit 2020: Day 2 (Sunday November 22nd) (YouTube link)
The SFS has some big names locked in throughout the weekend (28 episodes are currently listed), and below is a list of the clearly awamori- and shochu-centric content.
Key Sake Future Summit 2020 Episodes
Day 1: Famous bartenders and shochu makers galore!
“The Pillars of Shochu Behind the Bar” (Day 1 – Saturday November 21st, 11:00 – 11:50 AM JST)
World-renowned bartender and bar owner, Shingo Gokan, and the brand manager for his freshly-released trio of shochu brands, Joshin Atone, give us the straight talk on honkaku shochu’s potential in the cocktail world and beyond. Shochu and awamori savant, Christopher Pellegrini, joins Shingo and Joshin at award-winning The SG Club in downtown Tokyo for this episode.
“Shochu’s Sense of Place” (Day 1 – Saturday November 21st, 2:00 – 2:50 PM JST)
This episode is all about shochu’s regionality. Two of the industry’s four Geographical Indications (as protected by the WTO) are featured here. Mr. Yokoyama (President/Toji Omoya Shuzo in Nagasaki) and Mr. Toyonaga (President of Toyonaga Shuzo in Kumamoto) join MC Christopher Pellegrini for a tasting and discussion of regionality in the shochu world.
“Barley Shochu vs Japanese Whisky” (Day 1 – Saturday November 21st, 4:00 – 4:50 PM JST)
Featuring an exclusive interview (by shochu expert Maya Aley) with the president of Komasa (shochu) Distillery and Kanosuke (Japanese whisky) Distillery, MC Christopher Pellegrini welcomes Brian Ashcraft, author of “Japanese Whisky” (Tuttle, 2018) and “The Japanese Sake Bible” (Tuttle, 2020), onto the show to help elucidate the differences between these distinctly Japanese traditions.
“Spirit of Shochu in Future Bars” (Day 1 – Saturday November 21st, 11:00 – 11:50 PM JST)
Chikako Ichihara, Ryan Chetiyawardana, and Don Lee, three essential voices in shochu and awamori’s future outside Japan, talk about where Japan’s indigenous spirits sit in the fast-moving world spirits industry. Christopher Pellegrini joins as MC.
Day 2: Important Shochu Voices and Awamori Makes an Appearance!
“Lessons from Adversity” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 2:00 – 2:50 AM JST)
Shochu maker Junko Tsutsumi (President of Sengetsu Shuzo (shochu)) and sake maker Daisuke Suzuki (President of Suzuki Shoten) join MC Shuso Imada (GM of the Sake & Shochu Information Center) for a frank discussion of recovering from natural disaster.
“The Wood Renaissance” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 3:00 – 3:50 AM JST)
MC Justin Potts explores a rapidly disappearing art in Japan, the vocation of making wooden barrels for the food and beverage alcohol industries. This episode features Mr. Takahashi (Kikumasamune Sake Brewing’s Production Manager), Mr. Niida (President/Toji of Niida Honke), and Mr. Iwaizako (Cooper at Satsuma Shuzo (shochu)).
“Sustainability, Sake, Shochu” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 7:00 – 7:50 AM JST)
Journalist Sayuri Daimon talks with Mr. Kuroki (President of Kuroki Honten and Osuzuyama Distilleries (both shochu)) and Mr. Yasufuku (President of Kobe Shu-Shin-Kan Breweries) about how they make sustainable business practices a central part of their ethos.
“The Sake & Food Relationship” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 8:00 – 8:50 AM JST)
Shochu is likely to get a brief mention in this session featuring a bevvy of talented America-based chefs, and MC’d by one of the country’s foremost shochu and sake educators (Sachiko Miyagi).
“Awamori: Japan’s Original Indigenous Spirit” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 9:00 – 9:50 AM JST)
The soul, spirit, and drive behind Sake On Air, Justin Potts, chats with the inimitable Mr. Tsutomu Oshiro (CEO of Chuko Awamori Distillery) about their unrelenting dedication to tradition, growth, and gusukuyaki (pottery).
“Redefining Koji for the Future” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 10:00 – 10:50 AM JST)
It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to learn more about koji. This session is how you can accomplish that. Justin Potts (Sake On Air) talks with Jeremy Umansky (Co-author of Koji Alchemy and Chef-owner of Larder) and Koichi Higuchi (Director of Higuchi Matsunosuke Shoten) about Japan’s national mold. If you want to understand Japanese culinary culture, then you should tune in.
“The Craft of Sweet Potato Shochu” (Day 2 – Sunday November 22nd, 1:00 – 1:50 PM JST)
This session combines a traditional shochu distillery tour with commentary by several of the industry’s leading experts. Maya Aley (international shochu expert) and Tekkan Wakamatsu (Master Brewer-Distiller at Yamato Zakura Shuzo) lay the groudwork for exactly how backbreaking making shochu can be, while Stephen Lyman (author of The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks and annual kurabito at Yamato Zakura) and host Christopher Pellegrini discuss what makes this shochu sub-category so special.
The Sake Future Summit 2020 was a huge success! The experts that came together to talk about Japanese drinks in front of the camera provided immeasurable value to the Summit’s worldwide audience, and should prove to be a valuable resource (thanks to YouTube) for many years to come.
Thanks and kanpai to everyone involved!