Episode 134 Show Notes

Episode 134. This time of year, many people think about going back to school to advance their careers, but have you considered going back to SAKE school? Let’s study up on all the various sake courses and certifications out there to help us learn more about our favorite drink. If you dream of a career in sake, the right class might be just the ticket to get you on the the path to sake expertise in the new year! Check out our show notes for a sake education PDF download that will be your easy-to-understand guide to all of the various sake classes, courses and certifications available right now. Time to hit the books! #SakeRevolution

Skip to: 00:19 Hosts Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 05:04 Sake Courses & Certifications

Click here to download our free PDF guide to “Sake Courses & Certifications”

There are many courses, classes and certifications available to further your studies of Japanese sake. Which one is right for you? To learn more, check out our guidelines to classes that are beginner, advanced and hardcore to find the right fit for what you want to learn.

Beginner Courses:

Sake Adviser Certification
Offered by: The Sake School of America
Class format: One day | Online or In Person Cost ~$475
Learn More: SakeSchoolOfAmerica.com

Certified Sake Professional (SCP)
Offered by: The Sake Education Council Class format: Online or In Person
Cost ~$375 (online)
Learn More: SakeEducationCouncil.net

WSET Level 1 Award in Sake
Offered by: Wine & Spirits Education Trust Class format: One Day | Online or In Person Cost ~$265
Learn More: WSETglobal.com

Advanced Courses:

International Kikisake-shi (Sake Sommelier)
Offered by: The Sake Service Institute Class format: Three Day | In Person
Cost ~$1050
Learn More: SakeSchoolOfAmerica.com

Advanced Sake Professional (ASP)
Offered by: The Sake Education Council Class format: 5 Days | In Person (Japan) Cost ~$1500 (plus hotels and travel)
Learn More: SakeEducationCouncil.net

WSET Level 3 Award in Sake
Offered by: Wine & Spirits Education Trust Class format: Three Days | In Person
Cost ~$900
Learn More: WSETglobal.com

Sake Scholar Certification
Offered by: Michael Tremblay
Class format: Three Days | Online or In Person Cost ~$800
Learn More: SakeScholar.com

JSS Academy Certificate
Offered by: Japan Sake/Shochu Makers Assoc. Class format: 5 Days | In Person (Japan)
Cost ~$1,000 (plus travel)
Learn More: SakeBunka.jp/academy

Hardcore Courses:

J.S.A. Diploma
Offered by: Japan Sommelier Association Class format: In Person Exam
Cost ~$250 (exam + textbook only)
Learn More: Sommelier.jp/exam/sake_en.html

Master Sommelier of Sake (Sakasho)
Offered by: Sake Service Institute
Class format: 3 Days in Person (Japan) Cost ~$1,800 (Japanese Language Only)
Learn More: sake-sommelier-japan.com

Skip to: 13:40 Sake Introduction and Tasting: Fuku Chitose Happy Owl Yamahai Junmai

Fuku Chitose Happy Owl Yamahai Junmai

Classification: Junmai, Yamahai
Prefecture: Fukui
Rice Type: Gohyakumangoku
Seimaibuai: 60%
Brewery: Tajima Shuzo
Acidity: 1.6
SMV: +3.0
Sake Name English: Happy Owl
Importer/Distributor: Joto Sake
Brand: Fuku Chitose (福千歳)

View On UrbanSake.com

Where to Buy?
Purchase on TippsySake.com: Fuku Chitose Happy Owl Yamahai Junmai*
NOTE: Use Discount Code “REVOLUTION” for 10% off your first order with Tippsy Sake.

Skip to: 34:17 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

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Episode 134 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello everybody and welcome to Sake Revolution. This is America’s First Sake podcast and I am your host, John Puma From the Sake Notes, also that guy who started the internet sake discord and manages Reddits r slash sake community.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:40
And I’m your host, Timothy Sullivan. I am a Sake Samurai, sake educator, as well as the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week John and I will be here tasting and chatting about all things sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.

John Puma: 0:56
Yeah. Tim, I’m gonna, I’m gonna horn in on something that you just said there, sake educator. yes, you are a sake educator. You formally. instruct people in, the ways of sake. And I, on the other hand, have no formal sake education. You are, you are the one who brings the education, and I’m the one without the formal education. I’m the, I’m the, I learn on the streets

Timothy Sullivan: 1:22
you’re, you’re the man on the street perspective. I

John Puma: 1:24
learn, I, yes, I learned about sake, uh, the, the hard way. I have street sake, street smarts,

Timothy Sullivan: 1:30
Yes. You know, just enough to be dangerous.

John Puma: 1:33
Yes. Well, you can put it that way. Yes, absolutely.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:37
Well, ha. Have you ever thought about taking a class or getting a certification?

John Puma: 1:42
So actually I had thought about it and I actually brought it up with a, with some mutual friends in the past, uh, some, some sake industry individuals, insiders, perhaps. Yes. And I was like, oh, you know, I’m thinking about taking x, y, Z course. And they were like, you know, John, you know, you really know. These things already so I don’t think you’d be getting a lot out of it.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:05
Hmm. Hmm

John Puma: 2:06
and this was a, like a, like a level one, and we’ll get into that later on. But this was like a very, uh, a low level course that I was pondering and, and I, and I thought about some more and had some conversations with the person about like, what they usually include. And, and they were, you know, came to the conclusion that, yeah, this is something that I picked up along the way and that I, I personally wouldn’t have gotten a lot out of. Um, but I do think about the other, the higher level, the more advanced courses that are out there. And I wonder sometimes like, do I need to do that? That, would that be fun? Would it be, educational for me? And I think about like the things you learn from just like drinking sake, talking to people about sake, going to Japan, reading labels and like that. And you do learn a lot, especially when you’ve been doing it as long as I’ve been. But there’s always gaps in your knowledge.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:53

John Puma: 2:54
People who are formal education are surprised by

Timothy Sullivan: 2:57

John Puma: 2:58
Like you, I gotta, I can have really great focus and really great, um, knowledge on a certain area. And then somebody will be having a conversation with me and assume that because I know x I then must know y because if I, I couldn’t have possibly gotten to X without knowing Y, but I have because I don’t have the formal education.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:16
Yeah. It’s kind of like learning Japanese by listening to anime for your whole life. and, you

John Puma: 3:22
I have never tried to learn Japanese by listening to anime

Timothy Sullivan: 3:25
but you come up, I, I hear what you’re saying. Like if you have a lot of experience with sake in a practical context, like from a, restaurant or from a bar, you may know very well certain areas, but then when it comes to sake history, perhaps maybe you’re lacking a little bit there. So, uh, my advice would be to look into the courses that are around, and it really comes down to if you need that certification, For business or not. I think for a lot of people who are in the hospitality industry, I know that’s not your main gig, nine to five, but for other people who work in hospitality, they may work in a restaurant or a hotel or a a liquor store, getting that certification. Can actually help their career. So even if they know a lot of the material, going through the course and getting certified, getting that piece of paper can be very valuable for people’s careers. So it depends if you’re a hardcore hobbyist, if you’re in the industry or not. There’s a lot of reasons to consider it. A lot of pros and cons.

John Puma: 4:29
So, I’m not sure if we’ve gone into detail on this, on the show before, but my, so my day job is not in hospitality. My day job is in technology and there’s a lot of, in, in my field, a lot of certifications that one could get. And just like you’re pointing out about this, it’s even though, you know, it is something that. Does help from a career standpoint, if you are looking to advance your technological career. Same idea here, I think, right? If you’re looking, if you’re in that, that field, you wanna do more with sake, it’s going to be helpful. It’s not gonna be something that harms you in any way when you’re trying to get a job.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:04
Yeah, my grandfather taught me a long time ago when I was a little kid. He would always say, there’s no such thing as too much education.

John Puma: 5:12

Timothy Sullivan: 5:13
And that was kind of. The vibe that I grew up with in my family that they really encouraged us to learn as much as we could and take every class we could. And so when it comes to sake education, from my point of view, since I first got interested in sake, I kind of latched onto every class I could take and now a number of those classes, I actually am a teacher for them now. So it might make sense if you’re interested in sake, education a little bit for us to talk through. Some of the different levels of classes that are out there and what they cost, what they cover, and look at when you’re just getting into it or if you’re a little more advanced, what types of classes and certifications there are. I think that’s something we’ve never talked about and I think it would be really, might be valuable to our listeners.

John Puma: 6:02
All right, well then, let’s do it. Let’s say I am just, I, I had sank, uh, for the first time a couple months ago, and it knocked my socks off and I really wanna learn more. Where should I start?

Timothy Sullivan: 6:15
Well, there’s a couple courses that I would deem for beginners. These are courses that don’t really. Require any previous knowledge of sake. These are really good for people who might be in the wine industry or the beer industry, or work in spirits, and they’re interested in sake as a complimentary thing, but maybe they don’t. They don’t know anything. So you, you wanna find a course that’s going to be walking you through the basics and helping you understand from the very beginning, It doesn’t pre assumee anything. And there’s a few, there’s a few courses out there that are really good for this. The first one is one that I’ve taken and that I also teach now. It’s called the Sake Advisor Course. And this is a course that is given by the Sake School of America. And. What I’ve done in our show notes for anyone who’s interested in any of the courses we’re gonna talk about today, is I’ve prepared a PDF with a list of all the schools, all the URLs, all the prices and the descriptions. So if you’re interested in any of the information in this episode, just go to our show notes SakeRevolution.com, and you can get a outline of all of these things so you don’t have to write it down while we’re talking, but I’ll give you a summary of each of these courses and if you wanna learn more, go to our show notes for all the details where you can learn more.

John Puma: 7:39
I, I kind of like that you’re, um, that you’re including. pricing on there. Cause I think that in a lot of cases it’s like you’re making an investment, especially if you’re looking to get into that industry and you’ll, you need to weigh that aspect of it, and that’s pretty cool.

Timothy Sullivan: 7:51
Yeah, so the Sake Advisor course, again, it’s given by the Sake School of America since the pandemic that has been taught online, but it’s also available in person, and it’s a one day class, so you commit from like nine to five on one day, and the cost for this class is about $475 and. You go through all the basics of sake from ingredients to production. Uh, they taste about 12 or 13 sakes during the course of the day. So you get a wide range of tasting experience. You talk about sake history, and it, it’s a really good, solid one day introduction. Deep dive into sake. Doesn’t get too advanced, too complicated covers, all the basics, everything you need to know in one day. So I think if you’re looking for a good, solid introductory certification, it’s a really good place to start. So that’s a course I’ve been teaching for many years and uh, I think it’s really compact, solid, and a good introduction.

John Puma: 8:58

Timothy Sullivan: 9:00
there’s another course called the W S E T Level one in Sake.

John Puma: 9:05
Mm, well, I’ve, I’ve heard of this one as well.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:08
so W S E T is the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and this is an organization that is based in the UK and they teach a lot of wine classes, spirits classes, and they offer a level one introduction to Sake, and this is similar in scale to the advisor class. It’s a one day commitment. It covers a lot of the basics. You get a a textbook and. For both the advisor and the W S E T level one. There’s a test at the end of the day, and it’s a multiple choice test, and then you have to reach a certain number of scores correct to pass it, but there’s no tasting element to the exam, so it’s just a theory exam at the end for, for these first two courses.

John Puma: 9:57

Timothy Sullivan: 9:58
and uh, yeah, so these are good introductions. The W S E T level one, that costs about $265 for the one day class and the W S E T level one is offered by the Sake School of America. That’s where I do a lot of my teaching.

John Puma: 10:16

Timothy Sullivan: 10:17
but W S E T is interesting. They work with what are known as approved program providers, so you can find wine schools across the country that teach this curriculum. So this is a curriculum that’s almost like a franchise, so that curriculum can be, Picked up by different wine schools and they get approved by W S E T to teach it, and the educators that teach it get certified. So this is kind of a education platform that can cross different wine schools, whereas the Sake Adviser that was developed by the Sake School of America and the Sake School of America also teaches the W S E T level one. So that’s a program that you. Take there as well, but it’s also offered elsewhere. Does that make sense?

John Puma: 11:12
It does. It does. It does. I like the, your, your comparison to a franchise makes a lot of sense,

Timothy Sullivan: 11:18
and there’s, there’s one final course that I took a while ago that’s really good for beginners and a lot of people who get into sake professionally know the name John Gauntner.

John Puma: 11:29
I’ve definitely heard of, I feel like everybody who’s even remotely associated with sake has heard of him at some point or another. Um, and have probably met him as well. I, I have had the opportunity here in New York a couple of times.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:42
Yeah, he’s known as the Sake guy, and he’s written a number of books in English on sake. And he offers a level one course called the Certified Sake Professional course.

John Puma: 11:53

Timothy Sullivan: 11:54
And since the pandemic, he’s been offering that online and it’s $375 and he spreads a few hours of instruction over several days, and that is a really good introduction. It’s taught from John’s point of view with his years of experience, so he’s written his own course. This is. Material and he’s the only one who teaches it. So unlike the W S E T program, which is franchised out, and you can become certified to teach the material, when it comes to the certified sake professional from John Gauntner, he’s the one who teaches it. So that’s available online. And uh, that’s a really good grounding in sake, basics. So I think if you. work in a sake adjacent industry and you wanna get started, one of these three courses is gonna be a really good choice. They’re all really, really good.

John Puma: 12:53
great. And, and also if you’re on the ground floor, not even in one of the other industries yet,

Timothy Sullivan: 12:57
Yeah. Yeah. If you’re a hardcore hobbyist or like you a man on the street sake, street, So what do you think John do? Does any of that sound appealing to you or, or

John Puma: 13:11
I’m not gonna make any additional, new Year’s, resolutions right now. But, I do weigh these things a lot because I am, getting more, involved. In the industry. And this, this podcast is one of those ways. now, before we move on to the advanced, which I imagine just gonna be a whole lot of advanced options available to us, uh, I think we should take a moment here and sip on some sake. What do you think?

Timothy Sullivan: 13:36
That’s a great idea.

John Puma: 13:38
Hmm. I like this halftime,

Timothy Sullivan: 13:40
Yeah. So what, what did you bring us today, John?

John Puma: 13:43
today I brought something honestly a little different from the usual, John Puma array. this is, um, Fuku Chitose, and honestly, I always just recognize this one by the bottle. It is the one with the owl on it is the Happy Owl, is what they call it, sworn in English.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:02

John Puma: 14:04
I’m sorry.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:05

John Puma: 14:07
Ha ha. You’re hilarious. Wow. I’m slow today. Cause it took me a minute to realize that you were, um,

Timothy Sullivan: 14:14
It was an owl Pun. Yes.

John Puma: 14:16
the owl pun. I got the owl pun. But how you gonna admit, how you gonna parlay the who into a happy owl though? Like who? Anyway, so the, uh, the brewery here making, producing the Happy Owl, is a Tajima Brewing company. They are over in. Fukui Prefecture, and, this is a Junmai Yamahai. Yamahai. I said this was a little off my usual path, but it’s the Tasty one. the sake uses Gohyakumangoku rice that’s been milled down to 60% of its original size. The, uh, sake meter value at measure of dryness to sweetness is plus three. Acidity is 1.6. The alcohol percentage is 15.2. That’s incredibly precise and. Uh, finally, last but not least is something that we’ve been meaning to touch on a little bit more on the show. The yeast variety is association yeast number 10. So, Tim, are you familiar?

Timothy Sullivan: 15:14
You know, I’ve had this brand before, but not in a long time,

John Puma: 15:20
Very similar for me.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:21
Yeah. So it’s always good to revisit sakes you haven’t had in a while. Um, this is going to be, uh, very interesting to try a Junmai Yamahai. So let’s get it in the glass.

John Puma: 15:33
Mm-hmm. Sounds good to me.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:40
Alright, so this is the Fuku Chitose Happy Owl Yamahai. Junmai. Looks like it has a little bit of color to it. Just a little, just a tinge of something golden in there.

John Puma: 15:54
Yeah. A little bit of color. No, no particulate at all that I can see. It is nice and clear

Timothy Sullivan: 15:59

John Puma: 16:00
all right, let’s get that aroma. Hmm. May I mention this as Yamahai Tim

Timothy Sullivan: 16:07
Yeah, there’s a little bit of rice-iness and a little bit of spice. You know, like it sounds a little bit of a spicy aroma to me.

John Puma: 16:15
It definitely, um, to me on the nose definitely reads Yamahai if I were to have this blindly, I’d be like, is this a Yamahai And then, uh, be, uh, impressed to find out that I was correct, but definitely has some of that going on.

Timothy Sullivan: 16:32
If you think of what, gingerbread or pumpkin pie smells like, there’s this little bit of this allspice cinnamon allspice

John Puma: 16:41

Timothy Sullivan: 16:41
aroma and this smells like that dialed down to like level one. Like it’s not overt. It’s a little hint of something spicy for me, and that goes hand in hand. A little bit of earthy Yamahai vibe that these sakes can have. But I’m picking up on a kind of a savory smell to this. A little bit of spice, a little bit of rice. And there

John Puma: 17:07
Little bit spice, a little bit of

Timothy Sullivan: 17:09
yes, TM

John Puma: 17:12
Yeah. There you

Timothy Sullivan: 17:13
trademarked sake. Revolution

John Puma: 17:15
on to that one.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:17
Yes. All right. Well, let’s taste it.

John Puma: 17:20
All right. Hmm.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:23
Savory, right?

John Puma: 17:25
Mm-hmm. and honestly, uh, we’re having this a little bit chilled right now. I, I don’t know about you. Uh, I’m having this a little bit chilled right now. I feel like this is something that is going to. Really love being at room temperature. It’s gonna really love being a few degrees above room temperature. It’s, I think warming this up would go a long way. Uh, it’s nice by itself. It’s nice, nice and chilled Also, I also feel like it really wants food.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:51
Yeah. The finish is nice and dry. I find that the, the spiciness continues on the pallate. It’s got a nice, uh, weight to it. Uh, generally lightly dry. And, um, there’s that savoriness there too. It’s, um, very, when you say earthy sake, people get scared sometimes and run in the other direction, but this has a

John Puma: 18:18
one of those people

Timothy Sullivan: 18:20
I thought you might be. Uh, but

John Puma: 18:22
but, but I do understand what you mean.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:24
it has a gentle earthiness,

John Puma: 18:25
Yeah. gentle oh, I like that. Gentle earthiness.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:29
Yeah. There’s some funkadelic brews out there that tastes like drinking the forest floor or, you know, moss and leaves and things like that. This has just a whisper of that earthiness, but it lets you know it’s a Yamahai while still being very elegant. I think like this is drinkable, elegant, would pair well with food. You’re 110% correct there. I love that.

John Puma: 18:54
Yeah, I think I was first introduced to the sake at a, uh, at an izakaya that I don’t think is with us anymore, called Shigure and this was absolutely perfect for Izakaya food. It would, it just went with everything It was so good.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:11

John Puma: 19:12

Timothy Sullivan: 19:13
Great. Well, this is a fun sake to sip on. That’s got a lot of meat on its bones, a lot to talk about, a lot to dig into, but, We have to get back to our education overview for all our listeners who may want to take a sake course in the new year, if that’s one of their resolutions, just to get certified. We’ve already covered the courses for sake, beginners, but if you’ve, if you’ve taken a certain amount of sake education already, maybe you’re ready for the next step. What I would call like the advanced level.

John Puma: 19:46

Timothy Sullivan: 19:47
Yeah. And there. A number of ways you

John Puma: 19:51
Yeah. So, so, uh, you know, let’s, let’s, let’s unpack this. What do we have for advanced? Like, you’ve, uh, you’ve taken your beginner courses, uh, and now you’re ready to sink your teeth into something a little bit bigger.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:03
Well, we talked about three in the beginning, right? The Sake School of America advisor, the W S E T, level one, and John Gunner’s level one. All three of those have a level two.

John Puma: 20:15

Timothy Sullivan: 20:16
So starting with John Gauntner, he offers a class in Japan called The Advanced Sake Professional Course,

John Puma: 20:24

Timothy Sullivan: 20:25
So this, advanced sake professional class from John Gauntner is based in Tokyo, and then you fan out to different locations to visit breweries and visit brew pubs and things like that. The tuition costs about $1,500 and You do a lot of tasting in class. And then there’s an exam that involves tasting as well. So there’s theory and tasting to graduate from this course, and the exam is offered while you’re there, like on the last day or second to last day, you take the exam. So that’s going to Japan. That’s a big deal

John Puma: 20:56
yeah, I mean that’s going depend. And you know, what you can do is you can, you said this was a, five days,

Timothy Sullivan: 21:00
Yeah. Five days.

John Puma: 21:02
you do five days of that. You, you buffer a couple of days before you buffer some time afterwards you make a little vacation out of it. That sounds like a lot of fun. Now, every day, do you, you end up back in Tokyo at, at the end of the day. So your accommodations in Tokyo.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:15

John Puma: 21:16
yours, and you don’t, you don’t have to make accommodations in these other cities yet.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:19
no, I think you, you, you want to book a hotel near the Tokyo Education site, which is he lists on his website. And again, we’ll have that in our show notes. And, uh, then they get buses and trains from Tokyo to go out to all the, all the different tours that they do. So, and there’s a fair amount of classroom instruction in Tokyo as well. And you know, one other thing that we haven’t talked about yet is the networking. You can do. If you take a class like this, when I went to John Gauntner’s class in Tokyo, I met people from all over the world. It was great networking too. So that’s an added bonus that you don’t, you might not think about going

John Puma: 22:00
That’s a, that’s an excellent point.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:01
Yeah. So those are the two levels for the John Gauntner class, the Sake School of America. There’s the SAKE advisor for level one. And then what’s considered like the level two is what’s called the International Kikisake-shi

John Puma: 22:16

Timothy Sullivan: 22:17
and that’s the International Sake Sommelier course. And this is something that I’ve been teaching. A number of years. This one is the

John Puma: 22:27
em all. Tim

Timothy Sullivan: 22:29
This one is a like a sake Somm class, and the time commitment is three full days plus a exam day,

John Puma: 22:40

Timothy Sullivan: 22:41
and it’s a pretty intense course. The cost for this one is just over a thousand dollars and you get certified as an international English language, Kikisake-shi or sake Somm at the end of it. So it’s a really comprehensive, deep dive into sake and it’s a builds off every thing you learn in the sake advisor. And, uh, it’s a great course if you want to get certified. Again, if you’re in that industry that connects to sake in some way, it’s a wonderful certification to have.

John Puma: 23:12
I like the sound of that.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:13
Awesome. Yeah, so the W S E T program, that UK based program that kind of franchises their program out to different schools. That is also offered at a level three, so W S E T level three in sake. Um, we had level one before they skipped over level two and they just called it level three so,

John Puma: 23:34
okay, that’s a choice.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:36
it’s a choice. Yeah, there may be a level two someday, but this is their level three and it’s about $900 for the W S E T program. And similar in scope, it’s about three days of class instruction with a lot of blind tasting, and you learn how to taste sake and again, All of these three courses have an exam with a written component and then a blind tasting component. So that’s very scary for a lot of people. I know when I was a student, it was terrifying for me to blind taste something, not know what it is, and you have to describe it. You have to write down a description of the sake. And it’s, uh, it’s a little unnerving if. I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but that’s what these courses are for, to train you in how to blind taste with confidence.

John Puma: 24:25
Hmm. Okay. That’s pretty cool.

Timothy Sullivan: 24:27
Yeah, and there’s a couple other advanced courses that I would recommend as well that are worth mentioning for sure. The next one is what is known as the Sake Scholar Program Michael Tremble is the creator of the Sake Scholar Course, and he’s a friend of the pod. Uh, he’s been on our show. He’s a Sake Samurai, and he’s also the author of Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake, a wonderful book that he wrote with Nancy Matsumoto. And on top of all those achievements, he also created this entire course, and he wrote a textbook to go along with it. This course focuses a lot on regionality in sake, and he goes through every Prefecture in Japan and the sake they make there and what the styles are and the geography is. I took this class a few years ago before the pandemic. And it’s a wonderful deep dive into the regions of Japan. And, uh, it is advanced though it’s several days of class, three days of class with an online exam that is very challenging. So it’s definitely not for beginners. But if you are getting a little deeper into sake and you’re interested in regionality, I highly recommend Michael’s course. The Sake Scholar.

John Puma: 25:48

Timothy Sullivan: 25:49

John Puma: 25:50
I have a lot of friends that took that course. They, uh, they had a good time.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:54
Yeah. And again, great networking. Like I took the course it was given at Brooklyn Kura here in New York, and there were a lot of people from the industry who came to New York for the three days for the class. And it was great to meet people that, you know, they might live in Texas or somewhere else and you know, normally I wouldn’t get a chance to meet them regularly. So networking was great for that as well.

John Puma: 26:14

Timothy Sullivan: 26:15
And when it comes to advance, there’s one last class, John that I want to mention. It’s the Japan Sake and Shochu Academy, this is another course that takes place in Japan. So you gotta get yourself to Japan

John Puma: 26:28

Timothy Sullivan: 26:29
and it’s put on by the Japan Sake and Shochu Maker’s Association. And it’s about a thousand dollars. And this class takes place usually once a year around February or March. They change the dates a little bit each year and it’s a one week class and it’s a bit of a deep dive. I would say It’s not necessarily geared towards sake beginners, but they do blind tasting. You study sake and shochu, that’s part of the certification for this

John Puma: 26:57
Mm-hmm. So it is, it is both.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:00

John Puma: 27:01

Timothy Sullivan: 27:02
So the W S E T level three, the cost for that one is about $900. And then the. For this Sake Scholar class that we’ve been talking about, the cost for that in US dollars is around $800 and that includes the textbook as well.

John Puma: 27:20
Cool. Alright, so, well that’s Tim, that is interesting. And I, is there anything else if I’m like, super, I’ve done all of this. I am, I am now a threat. in the sake world. What? What’s next for me after that?

Timothy Sullivan: 27:34
You know, that’s a, that’s a great question. When people take the sake Somm class with me, the Kikisake-shi they’re always like, Tim, I’ve taken your Kikisake-shi class, your Sake Somm class. I passed. What’s next? What do I do next? What’s the next level? What’s beyond Advanced

John Puma: 27:49
What’s beyond advanced?

Timothy Sullivan: 27:51
And there are a couple options, I think more is gonna develop over the years. But if you’ve graduated from the W S E T Level three or the Sake School of America, sake Somm class, or you’ve taken John’s. Advanced Sake professional class and you want more? There’s a couple options with limitations. Um, what I would say is one of the hardest exams in English is what’s known as the JSA diploma. This is the Japan Sommelier Association. It’s a Japanese organization and they issue an exam every year.

John Puma: 28:33

Timothy Sullivan: 28:34
and there’s a textbook that goes along with the exam, but there’s no real class, so you have to get the textbook and you pay a fee to take the test. It’s a really hard test. Lots of difficult questions, and then you have to do a blind tasting as well. And then there’s an essay. There’s an essay question on the test as well. Yes.

John Puma: 28:56

Timothy Sullivan: 28:57
Yeah. So I took the test the first year. They offered the JSA in the US and I passed it. But I, I can say it’s one of the harder exams I’ve taken in the world of sake.

John Puma: 29:10

Timothy Sullivan: 29:11
So if you’re looking for that next level challenge and people who’ve passed the JSA, I think it’s a real.

John Puma: 29:17
sounds like a beast.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:18
It’s a beast. Yeah, but it’s a certification that you can talk about proudly, I think because it’s, it’s really tough and if you’ve passed it, I think it, it speaks to your knowledge of sake and, and it, it’s, it’s a hard exam, but if you’re looking for that next level, it’s a really good thing to look into.

John Puma: 29:37
Hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Do you have one of those, like, like a wall, like those, uh, like attorneys do with all their education framed, certifications framed up? You do.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:47
I had all my certifications in a file folder, and I one day decided to get them out and in my office here, I have them on the wall.

John Puma: 29:55
Nice. That’s great.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:57
you know, of all the classes we’ve spoken about so far,

John Puma: 30:00

Timothy Sullivan: 30:01
Taken all of them past all of them, except for one, I never went to the Japan Sake and Chochi Academy in Japan. So that’s a relatively recent course. It started a few years before the pandemic, and my schedule never aligned. I’ve always wanted to take this class. So the JSS class, the academy, I’ve never taken that one. But all the other classes I’ve taken and passed, so, um, but there’s, there’s one more. One more class. Yes.

John Puma: 30:32
What’s, what? What’s.

Timothy Sullivan: 30:33
This is probably the most hardcore of them all.

John Puma: 30:36

Timothy Sullivan: 30:37
It is an extension of the international Kiki-shi, so the international Kiki that’s taught by the Sake School of America is coordinated. SSI so SSI is an organization in Japan called the Sake Service Institute, and they are one of the largest organizations in Japan that gives out certifications in the world of sake.

John Puma: 31:04

Timothy Sullivan: 31:04
the international Kiki Zahi is their program that Sake School of America teaches, but they offer a master sommelier of Sake

John Puma: 31:14

Timothy Sullivan: 31:16
Yes. This is only in Japan, and the reason I’ve never taken this is because it’s in Japanese, only

John Puma: 31:26
Oh, So not only is it in Japan only and you’ve gotta go to Japan, you need to be fluent, I imagine.

Timothy Sullivan: 31:33

John Puma: 31:34
at least partially in reading and writing. Oh, that sounds not so great.

Timothy Sullivan: 31:39
So if you don’t have near native fluency in. It’s very difficult to take the master sommelier of sake in Japan with ssi, so that that is a hill I cannot climb at this point in my life,

John Puma: 31:58
Interesting. Yeah. That’s, uh, step one, become fluent in Japanese. Step two, take

Timothy Sullivan: 32:02
yes, so I’ve always wanted to take this exam for master sommelier. I don’t speak Japanese well enough and I can’t read Japanese well enough. So this, this remains an elusive dream. But for those people out there who are native speakers of Japanese, or people who lived in Japan and speak and read fluently, this master sommelier of sake is what I would call a hardcore certification if you wanted

John Puma: 32:36

Timothy Sullivan: 32:37
top level.

John Puma: 32:38
Yeah. Oh boy. All right. Anyway.

Timothy Sullivan: 32:42
unless I want to quit all my jobs, study Japanese for two years, become fluent in reading and writing, then go back and taste this test. I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

John Puma: 32:51

Timothy Sullivan: 32:51
It’s gonna happen. Goals.

John Puma: 32:52
It’s good

Timothy Sullivan: 32:52

John Puma: 32:53

Timothy Sullivan: 32:53
Yeah. So we’ve looked at some beginner classes, some advanced classes, and some hardcore classes. what

John Puma: 32:58

Timothy Sullivan: 32:59
do you think?

John Puma: 33:00
uh, we’ll see what happens and if it’s, uh, if it’s something I would like to pursue formal education, tim, formal education and I are, are not lifelong friends.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:11
I don’t

John Puma: 33:12
Even, even in my career, I’ve had more practical applications. Been my

Timothy Sullivan: 33:17
Are you a beauty school dropout, John

John Puma: 33:19
No, no, no.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:21
You know when you, when you sign up for the Sake Advisor class, they send you a 75 question test quiz.

John Puma: 33:28

Timothy Sullivan: 33:28
you can test your knowledge on that and see if it’s all super easy, you know all the answers, then maybe you can skip the Sake advisor. So,

John Puma: 33:37

Timothy Sullivan: 33:37
maybe, you could challenge yourself and take the test quiz and see, see how you do with that

John Puma: 33:42
All right, so the right answer is I’m gonna take the test quiz and see where I

Timothy Sullivan: 33:47
Yes, you need a placement test. That’s, that’s what you need

John Puma: 33:51
that’s, yeah, that’s Somebody needs to make a placement test. Maybe you can be that someone, Tim.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:57
All right. Well, for anyone out there listening, if you wanna get a Sake certification in the new year as your revolution resolution, I hope this episode was useful to you and I hope that you’ll go for a beginner advance or hardcore certification in the near future. Now, just

John Puma: 34:13
I hope they actually call it hardcore

Timothy Sullivan: 34:17
Now as a reminder, if you want all the details on any of the courses we talked about in today’s episode, make your way to sake revolution.com and there you can download a PDF cheat sheet of all the education opportunities that are out there for you to enjoy.

John Puma: 34:36
Excellent. And did you know that if you would like to support our show, you can get out there onto your favorite podcast platform of choice. Believe it or not, the most effective one is still Apple Podcasts, and you can leave us a review. And in doing so, you will help get the word out about our show.

Timothy Sullivan: 34:55
And a special. Hello. Thank you and shout out to our patrons. We really are so happy for our community on Patreon. If you’d like to support our show, visit Patreon.com/SakeRevolution to learn more.

John Puma: 35:10
So without any further ado, I’d like you to raise your glass, figure out which sake course you are going to. and Kanpai!.