WSET Level 1 Award in Sake

Beginner Level

This qualification provides a hands-on introduction to the world of sake. You will explore the main types and styles of sake through sight, smell, and taste, while also gaining the basic skills to describe sakes accurately, and make food and sake pairings.

No previous experience of sake tasting is necessary to register on this course.

Course Synopsis:

  • The basic principles of sake production
  • The main types and styles of sake
  • How to serve sake
  • Factors affecting the flavour of sake
  • How to describe sake using the WSET Level 1 Systematic Approach to Tasting Sake® (SAT)

This course is for those starting a sake career or pursuing an interest in sake.
After successful completion, you will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin.

Why study with VSF?

  • This course is taught by BSA Board Director Marie Cheong-Thong (VSF’s WSET Certified Educator for Sake). Track record for Level 1 Sake: 100% pass rate, with most students getting over 90% and many getting full marks!
  • 8 premium sakes will be tasted as part of the course
  • The course fee includes WSET’s official study materials, classroom tuition, examination and postage
  • You’ll enjoy an exclusive discount on the sakes presented in class
  • Exclusive mirin-making session – roll your sleeves up and make your own mirin (a sweet cooking condiment similar to sake) to take home!
  • 1 x FREE ticket (worth up to £45) for VSF’s wine/spirits/sake tasting events
  • Students passing the exam will receive a £15 voucher for purchasing sake and/or books at VSF Shop (
  • Post-exam celebration with the Educator at a sake bar / restaurant and practise your sake tasting skills! (optional)

Where? Central London (Zone1/2)

When? 17 March 2019 (Sun) 09:00-17:00

(including an exam comprising 30 multiple-choice questions to be completed in 45 minutes)

Optional: post-exam drinks & dinner at a saké bar / restaurant with our Educator

How much? £198.33+VAT (£181.67+VAT per person for two or more persons booking together)

Special Package: “From Zero to Hero” (WSET Levels 1 + 3 Award in Sake): £813.33+VAT only (saves £80 (incl. VAT); original price: £880+VAT) for one person, or £771.67+VAT per person only for 2 or more persons booking together (saves £80 per person (incl. VAT); original price: £838.33+VAT per person). Please choose the date for your Level 1 course during registration. You may take Level 3 within 15 months (open-dated) after completion of your Level 1 course.

BSA Members enjoy a special 10% discount on WSET Level 1 Award in Sake, WSET Level 3 Award in Sake and the “From Zero to Hero” package. Please claim your promo code by sending an email to BSA’s Treasurer & Membership Secretary Brian Smith ( and book on our website ( directly.

Sign up now, pay later? You may be eligible for PayPal Credit’s instalment plans. This service is only available in select countries (including the UK). Please visit your local PayPal website for specific details and application. Once approved, please choose PayPal as your payment method at check-out.

Please spread the word and invite your friends and colleagues to tag along! Visit or write us an email at if you have any questions.


Grand Christmas Sake Tasting 2018

Come and join us to celebrate the end of 2018 bonenkai-style with a Grand Tasting of sakes at our second riverside tasting extravaganza.

Date: Monday 3rd December 2018

Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm


Location: The Star and Garter

4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN

Tel: 020 8788 0345

The sakes will be accompanied by buffet-style food platter and there are raffle prizes to be won, with proceeds going to one British and one Japanese charity.

Cost: £25 BSA members £30 non-members

Please book through

Tenth Anniversary!

Save The Dates!

Tuesday 30th October 2018

It will be ten years this October since we officially started the British Sake Association, and to celebrate we will be holding a very special Tenth Anniversary Dinner. Details to follow, but please Save The Date of 30th October, for a memorable evening, at SO restaurant, near Piccadilly circus.

Monday 3rd December ; our annual pre-Christmas bonenkai and Grand Tasting at The Star and Garter Hotel, Putney Embankment. SW15

Other autumn dates to be confirmed in due course

We look forward to seeing you soon.


Japan floods

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan during the current devastating floods. We are hoping that all sake breweries are safe, but praying for those who have lost homes and loved ones.

From us all at the British Sake Association.

In conversation with Philip Harper, Japan’s first and only British toji (sake brew-master)

Photo by Akagi Koichi

Thursday 17 August 2017 6:30pm

Daiwa Foundation Japan House

The Common Room

13-14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle)

London NW1 4QP

£30 British Sake Association and Japan Society members

£35 guests and others

Please note that this event is fully booked.

Toji is usually translated as “master brewer” referring to the person responsible for the entire brewing process in a particular sake brewery. Highly skilled in the craft of sake brewing, a toji has to work over the years to gain the necessary knowledge and training about the practical business of producing sake and, as a final step, to pass an exam on topics such as fermentation and chemistry to qualify as a sake master brewer.

In collaboration with the Japan Society, the British Sake Association is pleased to invite its members to an evening with Philip Harper, Japan’s first and only British toji. This is a very special joint event: expect a discussion and tasting of aged sakes, temperature and yeasts. Sake will be kindly supplied by SamSake and Tengu Sake.

Accompanying the sake, we will serve a mixed sushi bento box with a side dish of broccoli and aubergine sesame sauce (vegetarian sushi is also available).

In an informal atmosphere, Philip will talk about his experience in the sake world and discuss the production process of a sake brewery. It will also be a chance for you to ask Philip all those questions you have wanted to ask about sake.

Philip Harper was born in Birmingham and raised in Cornwall. After graduating in English Literature at Oxford University, he went to Japan in 1988 on the Ministry of Education’s JET Programme, and worked as an English teacher in public schools in Osaka. Following this experience, he started working at Ume no Yado, a Japanese sake brewery in a rural town within Nara Prefecture. After around ten years or work and training, he qualified as a master brewer and has worked at breweries in prefectures including Ibaraki, Osaka and Kyoto. Philip is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Sake (1998) and The Book of Sake: A Connoisseurs Guide (2006), both published by Kodansha International.

FAQ: Keeping Sake

How long can I keep sake once it is opened?

We get asked this often: and the truth is that it depends on the type of sake.

Light and heat are the number one enemies! Once opened keep cold and in the dark (even fridge light is bad!) and stoppered: for highly aromatic sake you’ll notice the quality difference after a few days (but it’ll still be drinkable).

For less aromatic (but still high-end) you can keep it longer, maybe a week, maybe more. For junmai, honjozo or futsushu you might be able to keep it up to a month.

Added alcohol sake (non-junmai styles) has a better shelf life than junmai.

And sometimes we are asked about the use of vacuum stoppers.

They can help to keep it fresh, BUT please note that if you use vacuum stoppers for highly aromatic sake you can suck the aroma out so it’s not advisable.

Shirley Booth – President & Advised by Oliver Hilton Johnson of Tengu Sake