Episode-53: Kura Master with Xavier Thuizat

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Any of our listeners that tuned into Sake Future Summit 2020 will likely already be familiar with the brilliant work of this week’s guest, Hotel de Crillion Chef Sommelier, Xavier Thuizat. In that session, together with Marco Pelletier (of Vantre), we looked at what it will take to insert sake into the upper echelon of the French dining experience.

One crucial topic we didn’t touch upon, however, is the unprecedented sake competition Xavier established which thrust him into the sake industry limelight. That competition, as likely many of our listeners are familiar, is Kura Master.

Having been wooed by the world of sake, and then for years worked painstakingly in order to integrate it into some of the world’s most illustrious wine programs, in order to further raise the bar and expand the reach of the category he saw a need to create a standard that spoke to the individuals at the front lines of the French dining experience–sommeliers–thus gathering mindshare for sake on France’s strictest stage: the dining table.

For this episode, our eloquent and thoughtful in-house Frenchman Sebastien Lemoine takes the reigns, while Chris Hughes and Justin Potts co-pilot a fascinating conversation exploring what it takes to create a world class beverage competition from the ground up, along with the decisions and reasoning that led to Kura Master taking the form that is has today, and what we can expect in the years to come.

You can find our previous interview with Xavier from Sake Future Summit 2020 inside the event’s playlist on our official YouTube channel, along with an additional 30 hours of sake and shochu-inspired exploration. Whether you’re settling in for a long, quiet holiday, or cracking a celebratory bottle of sake to ring in the New Year, you should be able to find something amidst that sake marathon to enhance your appreciation of what went into that special bottle of koji-inspired alchemy.

If you find a moment this holiday, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We’d also love to have you reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp to share with us what you thought of the show in 2020. You can follow us on  InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or subscribe to us over on YouTube.

Wherever you may call home, the wildness that defined 2020 surely touched all of our listeners in some capacity. With eyes on the year to come, we’re going to keep seeking out and creating ways to help make sake and shochu a more meaningful and enjoyable element to define good times ahead.

Thanks so much for all of our listeners and supporters for sticking with us – and with sake – throughout this turbulent year. We can’t wait to do our part in boosting the number of reasons to “Kampai!” in 2021.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year from the team at Sake On Air.


Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is a co-production between Export Japan and Potts.K Productions, with audio production by Frank Walter.

Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.