[2021] Thoughts and advice on taking the SAKE DIPLOMA International exam


I took the SAKE DIPLOMA Internatinal on October 16, 2021. This was the first time for me to take this exam. First of all, let me tell you the result: I failed. However, it seems that I passed only the written exam, so I can only take the tasting and the essay in the next round. In this article, I will give advice to those who are planning to take the SAKE DIPLOMA International certification exam based on my experience.

Test Day Schedule

10:40-10:55 Arrival & Registration
10:55-11:00 Orientation and Instructions for Written Exam
11:00-12:00 Written Exam
12:02-12:05 Instructions for Short Essay and Tasting Exam
12:05-12:25 Shot Essay Exam
12:25-13:05 Tasting Exam
13:10 End of exam

As you can see from the schedule above, it is a very tight timetable and there are no restroom breaks in between. The test lasts for about two hours, so if you are planning to take the test, please make sure to use the restroom beforehand.

Impressions of the written exam

Since you have to answer 100 questions in 60 minutes, you need to be fast. If you read the questions slowly or worry about them, the time will pass in a blink of an eye.

Initially, I was informed that the difficulty level was mostly basic questions. However, from what I actually took, the difficulty level was quite high and there were many niche questions. In other words, the difficulty level is higher than before. Therefore, if you want to take this exam in the future, you need to memorize the detailed information in the textbook.

Impressions of the essay exams

The following two questions were the essay topics for 2021.

  1. List three sake rice varieties from Kochi Prefecture and describe the most major sake rice among them.
  2. Describe the vacuum distillation of shochu.

To be honest, I was shocked when I saw this theme. This is because it is more difficult than the Japanese version. Especially for the Kochi theme, it was difficult to explain even in Japanese, and now I had to explain it in English. As soon as I saw this theme, I knew that I was going to fail this exam.

Thus, even in the essay exam, the difficulty level is so high that it is impossible to answer with half-hearted knowledge.

Impressions of the tasting exam

In the tasting test, there were four kinds of sake and two kinds of shochu.

Honjozo-shu Sasanishiki
Junmai-shu Gohyakumangoku
Junmaiginjo-shu Yume-sansui
Junmaiginjo-shu Gohyakumangoku
Imo-shochu Atmospheric distillation
Kome-sho-chu Vacuum distillation

As for the tasting test, the questions were relatively basic.

after taking an examination

The results of the exam will be posted on the website of the Japan Sommelier Association in about two weeks. Your exam number and name will be listed there. If your name is not listed here, you have failed the exam. However, if, like me, you only passed the written exam, you will receive the results later by mail.

The above is my experience. I will update this report as new information becomes available.