Testimonials from Sake-World Graduates


Sake Professional Course
See Sake Professional Course for 2008 Itinerary.
See Sake Pro 2006 for some photos.  Testimonials by Graduates of Past Sake Pro Courses

“The mediocre teacher tells.  The good
teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.”
Indeed, John has inspired me throughout my journey
learning about sake. Beginning with his book, “Sake’s Hidden Stories” I became fascinated with the attention to detail that goes into making an excellent sake. It was a
natural progression, then, for me to attend his Sake Professional course and I am so glad I did. It had everything from detailed sake brewing techniques, to extensive sake tastings, to lively discussions of all
aspects of sake and the sake industry. If you are serious about sake then you don’t want to miss this course.

Michael G. Emmons, App Apps, LLC 2009

Creator of the iPhone Sake tasting app

Wasted Time? None.
I had concerns regarding John Gauntner’s three-day Sake Professional Course. Though
I knew little
about sake, I wondered whether the time and expense was a good idea. It
was. John’s class started on-time, ended on-time, covered what he said it would in well-prepared and detailed fashion, and he answered every question in an enthusiastic graduate caproom. His extensive and well-chosen sake samples allowed us to taste every
point he was trying to get across. You must be prepared to study a bit to pass the exam, but that extra measure of learning helps you to justify the time and expense in the end.

J.B. Master Tigris Beverage Co. 2009

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect
from this course, but having sat-through as well as
taught many wine courses (at all levels), I assumed it’d be graduate capsimilar.

I was wrong.

Let me explain: the primary reason I began teaching wine (and other beverage) was
because, obsessed with wine, I attended many lectures, seminars, etc. Without fail, I witnessed a parade of dry-as-toast, droning, wine nerds who, though profoundly
knowledgeable, failed to pass ANY knowledge on to their audience. It was as if their goal was to let everyone know how much THEY knew about wine, rather than espousing the
goal of passing that knowledge on and creating passion and excitement for fledgling wine folks.

Having been familiar with John Gauntner’s “Sake World” for many years (Sake World is a
GREAT reference for those looking for a one-source site for all things Sake), I knew that the potential certainly existed for another non-learning experience. I could not have been more wrong.

John’s course was evenly-paced, intense, challenging and entertaining! He covers Sake in a “soup to nuts” fashion, without becoming mired in the minutiae (which I’m certain
…and hopeful…will come with the second level). John CLEARLY demonstrated his deep level of Sake knowledge, but filtered the information in a manner that inspired, rather
than intimidated, an amateur like me.

Being on the wholesale side of the beverage business, my wine knowledge has only
rare application in day-to-day calls. Because of John’s course, however, I’ve already found that a working knowledge of Sake has huge benefits in everyday sales
conversations!  So far, there is nothing I learned in John’s course that I’ve been unable to use, if needed, in the streets.

For those, either in the beverage industry or aspiring to be in the industry, this course IS A “MUST”.

-Tim Hirota, Southern Wine and Spirits

I went to New York thinking I knew a lot about sake, but after attending John graduate capGauntner’s Sake Professional Course, I realized I had barely scratched the
surface. Three days and 100+ sake tastings later, I have a plethora of new knowledge and an even deeper appreciation for sake. From rice varieties to
koji to the effects different water has on the final product, every aspect of sake brewing is explored. John is an excellent teacher and communicator, and truly an expert in all things
sake. I highly recommend this course for anyone who has a passion for sake. I greatly appreciate the effort and heart John put into making this course a meaningful and
worthwhile experience and I can’t wait to further my knowledge in Level 2!

Karise Murayama, LosAngelesSake.com

What differentiates a great teacher from an average one
is an innate and graduate capdeveloped ability to balance fact with nuance. In his course, John displayed
tremendous precision of thought supported by a nuanced and granular understanding of the global sake industry. John is a thought leader in the sake
industry supported by his in-depth knowledge of the industry, access to a wide and deep network of industry professionals, and a lucid understanding of when the answer to a
sake-related question is “It Depends” and when it is black and white. John’s class is a well designed thoughtful class that can serve as a solid building block for someone
interested in getting involved in the sake industry.

Akshay Shetty, 2009
New York

In my role as Director of Education for Fedway Associates Inc., I have completed graduate capcoursework from the Society of Wine Educators, the Wines and Spirit
Education Trust and the Guild of the Sommelier. What do all these institutions lack? A course on sake! Thanks to John, I now have knowledge of all things
sake and an incredible resource for information to share with our sales’ force and their customers. Our portfolio includes over ten breweries and sales continue to grow so the
need for comprehensive information is vital. It’s not too bad to brag about passing the test either! John’s teaching style is informative and casual but the salient points are
clearly communicated and the handouts are well organised to make presentations easy to assemble. Whether you work in retail, restaurant or distribution, this class is peerless
for sake education. Hope to see you in Japan for part 2!

Gerry Peserchia, 2009
Fedway  Associates

I have taken the Sake Professional Course in NYC in summer of ’09.  The course wasgraduate cap thorough and fun with many of his interesting personal experiences in the
Japan’s sake world.  I was amazed with not only John’s extensive knowledge of sake but also his knowledge of Japanese culture, geography and history to
go along with it. (He is more Japanese than I am!) Broad selections of sake were offered for tasting in the class to understand the differences of all kinds which I have never been
able to experience before.
Another thing to mention was his passion of teaching. He was always attentive to anyone
‘s questions in very approachable and kind manner.  No questions were unanswered. I enjoyed the course very much. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who is
interested in learning about sake in depth. Looking forward to taking level 2 in Japan as soon as it becomes available.

Iori Kataoka , 2009

Shuraku Sake Bar and Bistro / Zest Japanese Cuisine,  Vancouver B.C. Canada

John’s method of teaching both the “short answer” and the more “technically advanced” graduate capcovers all ranges of people who one may be trying to educate.  There is
nothing in the Sake World that John does speak of.  It is as comprehensive in the history, to brewing process, to culture, and to the tastings of almost 100
different Sakes that could not even imagine is paralleled.  I highly recommend John’s class no matter your Sake knowledge.  You will learn, be entertained, and come out with
a great understanding that Sake needs to be promoted to rid of the misconceptions and to clear the mystery behind this ancient beverage.

Avery Martin, New York 2009

“No sake stone left unturned is the perfect description for this course.graduate cap
John goes into great depth and covers all of the intricacies that make up
the wonderful ambrosia that is sake.  Everyone who is lucky enough to take

this course will leave it feeling that they are among a handful of people in
the United States and around the world that have a real understanding of all

the many facets that make up sake. John keeps the material interesting for
both total sake neophytes as well as those who have a more advanced

understanding of sake. John’s manner is approachable and open and his
teaching style is clear, and he is able to make even the most mundane facts

interesting.  I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to explore
the world of sake.”

Blake Spahn, CEO, Ty Ku 2009

Your course is essential for anyone that is truly passionate about sake. It is the graduate capnecessary well rounded education on a topic that appears simple yet has so many underlying complexities that are necessary to understand for true
appreciation. The course simplifies complex processes and pieces things together in a very cogent way that allows even the layman the ability to wrap their head
around the topic. While the course goes in depth on the brewing process what is truly fascinating are the anecdotes used and historical facts that tie the topics together and
keep the subject matter fresh and relevant. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and would recommend it to anyone.

Kirk Spahn, Ty Ku, 2009

“The Sake Professional Course was extremely worthwhile and informative.  An A to Z of sake.  John is a first rate instructor; both his passion and knowledge are consistentlygraduate cap

conveyed throughout the course.  The material is very well organized and
approachable, yet sufficiently in depth.  This is a “must attend” for anyone

who wants to really understand sake.”

Andrew T. Chrisomalis, COO, Ty Ku 2009

As a producer of an alcohol-focused, educational television program, it was imperative graduate capthat I gain as much information about the subject of sake’ as possible. My
initial approach to learning this art was to gain knowledge by working in a sake’ brewery in Japan for the 2009 sake’ season.  Once I completed my brewing
internship program, I found that I was capable of producing one style of sake.  However, I was not fully educated in the variety of the many different styles, regions,
history or the nuances of the business industry as a whole.  After partaking in John Gauntners’ Sake’ Professional Course, where he passionately touts that “No sake’
stone left unturned” I realized he was not overstating.  During this extensive and intensive course, there was truly “no Sake’ stone unturned”.  I feel with this program, together with
my time brewing in Japan, I am well rounded in this subject matter and find that John’s course will serve me well whether I use the knowledge for TV production, importation, sales or brewing.

Richard Gummoe,    Executive Producer, 2009

Boy Meets Still TV

I had the good fortune of taking the Sake Professionals’ Course because the distributiongraduate cap company that I work for had the opportunity to send 1 person to the course
because of our relationship with TYKU. Before taking the course I knew nothing about sake, beyond knowing that I enjoyed drinking it. The course not only
demystified sake, but in fact I now feel as if I can hold an engaging high level conversation on the subject. Being a bit of a wine geek, I sppreciated the high technical
level of the course, particularly in reference to the production methodology and some of the chemistry, etc. Also, because the class were generally more advanced than I in their
sake studies, I very much enjoyed and appreciated to fast pace of the class. I feel I learned an incredible amount and am so excited to continue to drink sake and expand my experience with sake.

Jordan Lari, 2009

Empire Merchants

“The Sake professional Course covered all aspects of sake, from brewing to tasting andgraduate cap provided the context for understanding the geographic variations of sake. John

Gauntner is a superb lecturer who makes the subject of sake fascinating for

-Mary Goetter, President, 2009
International Education Services, LLC

I was exposed to premium sake 25 yrs. ago by a Japanese sushi
chef, who taught me the correct way to eat and enjoy all Japanese food.

He would occasionally get a bottle brought to him by someone returning
from Japan. Nobu-San would share and explain what I was having but it
was confusing and a little hard to understand.

I now work in a wine store owned by two Master Sommeliers. We have
always been a leading edge kind of store and started carrying premium
sake almost ten years ago. We stumbled through learning what we could

from some articles and suppliers info until we became aware of your book
and subsequently your enthusiasm for sake. One of the owners has taken

your course in New York and two courses in Japan, her enthusiasm has
driven our sales and an ever expanding selection of sake. I attended the

class with the other owner so that we could begin to keep up with Sally.

The way you presented the vast array of information in a clean and

logical order opened my eyes to so much I had taken for granted. Sake is
liquid art and as such is very subjective, however understanding the

history, materials and techniques can make for a much more gratifying

As the buyer for the store I now have the ability and desire to choose

and present a broader and more interesting selection of sake’s and to
educate and inform our customers to another interesting and exciting
beverage choice. Domo! Sensei!!

Jeff Mathews, 2009

The Boulder Wine Merchant

The course was great! John was his usual fountain of sake knowledge when graduate cap
teaching. The 90 or so bottlings we tasted covered a wide

range of styles, rices, yeasts, ages, etc. There is certainly no better
opportunity in the US to taste and evaluate such a collection with such

all-star instruction. Overall it was a great experience – highly
recommended for anyone interested in sake.

Wayne Belding, 2009
The Boulder Wine Merchant

This is an excellent and comprehensive class on sake.  I don’t think there was a “stone graduate capunturned” or a question un-answered, and the tastings were some of the most
thoughtful I have ever encountered in the wine/sake/beverage business.  We compared rice varietals, yeast strains, regions, pressing techniques,
temperature differences, and quality levels, and the sakes chosen for these tastings demonstrated the differences and made sense.  John is an amazing teacher, and does
a great job of explaining a very complicated beverage in understandable steps.

I recommend this class to anyone interested in sake, regardless of their profession.  Very inspiring and eye-opening!

Morgan Hartman, 2009
Vine Connections LLC

John’s course was fun and informative.? He definately knows his sake andgraduate cap
consequently, now so do I.

Craig Dahlberg, 2009

moto-i in Minneapolis

Having the unique opportunity to learn about sake from John was trulygraduate cap
enjoyable and memorable. The amount of knowledge he has gathered over

the years in a field that is not so easy to access, specially for
non-Japanese, is amazing. I highly recommend taking this intense course

if you are in any way interested in sake. Tastings are also very well
done, always with a very specific purpose, whether to showcase regional

styles, sake rice types, even serving temperatures and vessels. It was
great to taste almost 100 sakes in three days, specially those that are

impossible to find in the US. This enriching experience was hard to beat
and I am certain my sake program with over 120 labels will immensely
benefit from it.

Dieter Xiao, General Manager, Shibuya Restaurant, MGM Grand Las Vegas, 2009

Andre Bishop (2007)
Owner, Izakaya Chuji Japanese Restaurant Chain, Melbourne, Australia
One with the lot! John Gauntner’s Sake Professional Course is the one stop,graduate cap

be-all and end-all, look no further, insight into the world of sake. From the basics through to the nitty gritty, all points are covered and it’s one hell of a ride.
During the first section of the course, each day participants are skillfully guided through the tastings and technical in the classroom, then masterfully unleashed into the
world of izakayas and sake bars at night to put their newfound knowledge to the test. John is always there for you, with his limitless knowledge and unyielding passion for
one of the world’s great drinks. His expertly prepared class notes, extensive tasting hints and well considered evening haunts make this course a must do for anyone who has
more than passing interest in sake. The excursions into the world of sake brewing and the kura visits are worth their weight in gold, an experience you would not be able to enjoy by any other means.

graduate capTrevor Fleming, Lesley Kehoe Galleries, Austraila

I am the gallery manager for Lesley Kehoe Galleries, dealers in fine Japanese works of art. In January 2007 I was fortunate enough to attend the sake
professional course in Tokyo. The course was a thorough and enlightened introduction to the many guises of Nihonshu. Unlike many of the attendees, I am not involved
professionally in the beverage industry however this was no barrier to John presenting a clear and balanced presentation of the available information. The range of sake on
tasting was extensive and represented a huge variety of styles. I came away from the course on massive high and would not hesitate in recommending this course. Become a 酒人 (sake person) !!

graduate capBeau Timken (2003)

Owner/operator of True Sake, the first sake-only retailer in the United States
If you are ready to take the next step in your fascination and love of

sake the only way to go is up with John Gauntner. Consider the
professional sake tasting course a graduate education as you explore the

essence of sake from such an elevated perspective.  This course tied in a
perfect blend of understanding, appreciation and sheer fascination. Sake is

indeed and art form and the professional sake tasting program provided me
the proverbial ability to “pull the curtain back on the wizard” in terms

of understanding the nuances and quirks that make this industry what it
is. Whether you are a beginner or self-taught junky the SPC provides you

the rarest of all perspectives on the inner-workings of an age-old
profession that is exploding onto the global stage. John Gauntner is a

once-in-a-lifetime tour guide and professor wrapped up in an enjoyable and
personable package. In a word the professional sake tasting program is

purely ‘enjoyable’ and an experience that will energize you for the rest
of your life.

graduate cap
Kjetil Jikiun (2006)
Head Brewer, Nogne O,
Det Kompromisslose Bryggeri AS, Norway

I participated in John Gauntner’s Sake Professional Course January 2006.

In my perception, this is the best way for a non Japanese speaker to get a proper understanding of sake, and I would strongly recommend anyone with a dedicated
interest in sake to take this course.  It is however, important to take the whole course, including the visits to the various breweries, as this gives a broader understanding of the
cultural and technical aspects of sake and sake brewing.
The 5 days of which my course took place, was extremely tiring, as the day’s itinerary
was packed.  This is however a good thing, as I felt I did nothing but living, thinking and doing sake for 5 days.

I cannot write about this course, without mentioning the dinners which followed every day’s classes.  This included everything from restaurants to Izakayas where the meals, the
sake and the atmosphere were absolutely wonderful.

graduate capNancy Cushman (2006)

Proprietor & Sake Sommelier of
O Ya Restaurant in Boston, MA

If you’ve been bitten by that alluring sake bug like I was ten years ago, and you want to
take a deeper dive into this “drink of the gods” for your professional development or purely as a personal quest, take John Gauntner’s Sake Professional Course.  As an avid
sake enthusiast and restaurateur, I found tremendous value in this course.  Over the intensive course, John will guide you through an engaging tour of this wonderful
beverage that is as complex and fascinating as wine – - from the history and tradition thousands of years old, to visits to modern day sake brewers where you will have the
privilege of seeing the brewing process in action.   The “classroom” education is reinforced by tastings of numerous sakes.  John’s anecdotes and stories, collected over
decades of his immersion in the sake world, add vivid texture to the course.   And of course, it is sake after all, so your fellow classmates are pretty much guaranteed to be
fun and come from a host of interesting backgrounds.

If you like sake, love sake, want to learn about it for your professional or personal
development, or even have a slight interest in digging deeper than admiring those beautiful labels, take the Sake Professional Course.

graduate cap
Elise Gee (2006)
Sake Educator, Vancouver

Considering whether to take John Gauntner’s Sake Professional Course is a
no brainer. When you complete the course, you’ll be a sake aficionado schooled by one of the great sake experts in the world, who’ll have personally guided you through
numerous tastings and brewery tours in Japan.  It’s a unique opportunity not to be missed by anyone with a keen interest in sake.

John’s passion for sake is evident in his books and articles, which are wonderfully written and informative, but they’re nothing compared to being in the same room
listening to this guy talk.  From the basics of how sake is made, to the nitty-gritty of yeast strains, to his many enjoyable sake anecdotes and observations, John’s enthusiasm is palpable and inspiring.

It was remarkable to meet others–from different countries and walks of life–and bond via our mutual love of sake.  It made me realize just how far-reaching this drink’s popularity
and influence has spread outside of Japan.

The course allowed me to truly understand, by seeing first-hand, the depth of tradition
and care that goes into the craft of sake-making, which has only further enhanced my interest and appreciation for nihonshu.

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Rick Smith & Hiroko Furukawa (2007)
Sakaya…New York’s first shop specializing in sake

Hiroko and I couldn’t have had a more thorough immersion in all aspects of
sake than that which we experienced at with the SPC this past January in Tokyo.   I can’t imagine how any course on sake could have been more comprehensive and, equally
important was that the material was presented in the most articulate, easily understandable and absorbable fashion…not so easy for a subject fraught with
complexity and inextricably intertwined with thousands of years of Japanese culture.    This is THE definitive course of study for anyone who is passionate about sake and/or
involved with serving or selling it.   We cannot thank you enough for giving us the foundation necessary to launch our shop in NYC!

graduate cap
David A. Roth (2007)
General Manager  Koji -Yakitori – Sake – Bar, Hartford CT.

John’s course is a must for anyone interested in sake. I strongly suggest
getting in as soon as possible because the interest in sake and John’s classes get’s bigger every year. His approach to teaching the ways of sake is down to earth and very
comprehensive. I use what I have learned on a daily basis with my staff and clientelle. It was an honor to be in the presence of someone so knowledgable and so humble. It is
easy to see why the Japanese sake community loves him so. I look forward to taking the advanced class in Febuary of 2008. Thank you John for being a wonderful sensei and a hell of a guy.

graduate capTodd Eng (2007)

Owner-operator of soon-to-be-opened sake pub in SF
” ***** out of five!” I laughed, I cried, I drank sake until it came out of my  ears!
John Gauntner’s sake professional course is unlike anything else out  there, a delicious and intensely focused, yet thoroughly enjoyable exploration  into the world of sake. I
came away with a far deeper appreciation, not just  for sake, but for Japanese culture and cuisine as well. Highly recommended.