By GUY WILLIAMS
Queenstown craft sake brewery Zenkuro has picked up two gongs overseas for its newest and highest-grade product.
Five weeks after its Junmai Daiginjo, or Super Premium Grade, sake won a bronze medal at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition, it scooped a gold medal at the Bordeaux Sake Challenge.
Director and head brewer David Joll says the Bordeaux win’s ‘‘huge’’ for the company, as Zenkuro was the only non-Japanese brewery to win gold in a comp in which 99% of entries were from the birthplace of sake.
‘‘It recognises our Queenstown-made sake alongside, and ahead of, some of the most famous sake brands in the world,’’ Joll says.
New Zealand’s only commercial sake producer, Zenkuro has been operating for six years, and is one of only about 40 craft breweries outside of Japan.
It only ventured into the more difficult and labour-intensive Junmai Daiginjo grade last year, and this year’s the first time it entered it in a competition, Joll says.
‘‘We’ve practised for five years in the slightly easier grades.
‘‘We thought we were ready to give it a try.’’
Operating from its brewery and tasting room in Repco Boulevard, Zenkuro exports to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, but the majority of its production is sold to restaurants and bars throughout NZ.