Consulting pro Course

About John Gauntner’s

Sake Professional Course

Held several times each year in Japan,
the US and Europe

Unmilled Rice

Go HERE for more detailed information on the Sake Professional Course to be held in the US.

Go HERE for more detailed information about the next Sake Professional Course to be held in Japan.

Read testimonials written by past graduates here.

The Sake Professional Course is an in-depth, thorough educational course that takes place over three days when held outside of Japan, and five days when held inside Japan (as there are two full days of sake brewery visits). The two mottos of the course are (1) “No sake stone remains left unturned,” and (2) “Exceed Expectations.”

At the completion of the course, participants have an opportunity to take an exam for Level I Sake Specialist certification. The cost for the course is 180,000 yen when held in Japan, and  $850 when held in the US. This includes three full days of instruction, materials, all sake for tasting, and one shot at the exam. Meals, lodging an the like are not included in the tuition. (Evening meals and sake are, in fact, included in the Japan course.)

Attendance is limited to 20 for Japan-based courses and 60 for US-based courses. Reservations can be made directly by email to John Gauntner. The content of the three-day intensive sake courses held in the US are identical to that of those held in the US, , excepting of course the sake brewery visits and evening meals.

Tokkuri and Guinomi, from Daimon Shuzo in OsakaThe course is geared toward industry professionals wishing to expand their horizons in a thorough manner into the world of sake, and is therefore necessarily somewhat technical in nature, and admittedly somewhat intense. But the course is open to anyone with an interest in sake, and it is certainly be fun! The course lectures and tastings  begin with the utter basics and  thoroughly progress through and cover everything related to sake. There is an emphasis on empirical experience, with plenty of exposure to a wide range of sake in the tasting sessions throughout the three days. Upwards of 90 sake are tasted across the three days.

Koji sporeEach day provides the environment for a focused, intense and concerted training period, and consists of classroom sessions on all things sake-related, followed by relevant tasting sessions.

The goal of this course is that no sake stone be left unturned. Every conceivable sake-related topic is covered, and each lecture is complimented and augmented by a relevant tasting. Participants don’t simply hear about rice type differences and yeast type differences, they taste them. Students not only absorb technical data about yamahai, kimoto, nama genshu, aged sake and region-related difference, they absorb the pertinent flavors and aromas within the related sake as well.

Bagging the riceIt is quite simply the most thorough English-language sake education in existence. Participants will also be presented with a certificate of completion at the end.

Also, as mentioned above, an exam is given at the end of the course for those that choose to seek certification. Note, the exam is not only optional, but also participants will retain the right to take the exam at any time in the future, allowing them time to prepare, and still enjoy this class. Those that pass said exam will receive a    “Level I Sake Specialist” certification from the non-profit organization The Sake Education Council.

For reservations or inquiries, please send an email to

Men at Work making Japanese nihonshu (sake)

Syllabus and Daily Schedule

Below is a tentative and general syllabus and schedule of the three-day program.

Day I
9:00 – 12:30 Welcome, Orientation, Sake Basics, Sake Types, Reading Sake Labels
Tasting I: typical representatives of various grades, milling rates
2:30 – 5:00 Sake Production
5:00 – 7:00  Rice Types, Yeast Types, Water
Tasting II: Rice types, Yeast types

Day II
9:30 to 12:00 Sake Chemistry: nihonshu-do, acidity, amino acidity, et cetera. Koji. Yamahai and Kimoto (30)
Tasting III: Yamahai and Kimoto.
12:00 to 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 5:00 All things nama, including muroka nama genshu. Pressing methods including shinshu, shiboritate, arabashiri and more.  Aging, Maturity and Vintage (or the lack thereof), Nigori, Low Alcohol Sake, Sparkling Sake, Red Sake
Tasting IV: Nama-zake, shinshu et al, aged sake, mature sake, over the hill sake, low alcohol sake, sparkling sake red sake

9:30 – 12:00 Vessels, Temperature, Ritual (or the lack thereof), Sake and Food
Tasting V: One sake in many vessels. Sake Suited for Warming.
12:00- 1:00 Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 Toji guilds, the reality with toji system now. regionality, History, The Old Ranking System, The Current State of the industry: biggies, smallies, blue chips, contracting, Sake Contests, Terms to Know.
Tasting VI: Typical Regional Representatives.
3:00- 4:00 Break
4:00 – 6:00 Exam

To see testimonials written by graduates of past Sake Professional Courses, click here.

For more information, email