Welcome to our new Sake Ambassador 2021 Mr Beau Timken


“For the Betterment of Sake,” a simple but powerful mantra to which Beau Timken has dedicated his life's work.

In the early 2000s, Beau began by opening the first sake dedicated store outside of Japan. Through his exceptional dedication, Beau created a space for curiosity and learning, helping change the perception and accessibility of Sake in the San Francisco area. Determined to influence sake’s appreciation on an even larger scale, Beau has also written a book (Sake – A Modern Guide), runs a popular sake newsletter and lists his True Sake reviews!

In his many years of service to sake, Beau has worn many hats: a Salesman, a Tutor, an Importer, and most importantly a Sake Lover. In particular, Beau has had a tremendous impact in unifying and connecting the world of sake.

“I always try to learn at least three things about sake each and every day. And I try to encourage every sake drinker to be the champion of their own palate, to listen to their own inner sake being rather than listening to goofballs like me trying to tell them what they should or should not like. Sake is a community, but it’s also very personal and I always encourage folks to feel and taste and define sake for themselves on their terms.”

Meet our Sake Ambassadors and Young Sake Ambassadors of the Year!

Young Sake Ambassador 2021: Reuben Oh Luke


Born in Singapore, sake has been Reuben’s go-to drink since reaching adulthood. With a background in events marketing and journalism, Reuben moved to the sake industry – drawn by its people, and their passionate work towards their respective arts. He wants to move the industry forward and help everyone: from brewers, to sommeliers, to customers! Upon receiving his award, Reuben shared:

“I am very honoured to accept this prize. Sake in Singapore, and across the world, is growing step by step each year. I would like to take this opportunity and push that next step forward in any way I can, for the industry and all the people across the world who work tirelessly for its benefit.”

About the Awards

Sake Ambassadors

Every two years one individual is honoured for their outstanding dedication to the World of Sake. They are people who have been advancing sake diplomacy, contributing to the understanding & appreciation of sake throughout their country and the world. We take great pride in celebrating the very best in the industry!

Young Sake Ambassadors

The aim of this award is to bring a fresh mind-set into the sake industry. Selected biennially, Young Sake Ambassadors are chosen based on how they bring new ideas to the craft and fuel the winds of progress. They are expected to spend their time contributing to the promotion of sake in their region.

Awarded only to individuals under 30, the Young Sake Ambassador award highlights the young, the new and the revolutionary individuals who keep the World of Sake constantly adapting & evolving.

First Sips Bursary

The First Sips Bursary is an initiative by the Sake Sommelier Association to help individuals enter the sake industry who might otherwise struggle. Even with its booming popularity nowadays, the field can be difficult for those who don’t know how to take their first step – or their first sips.

The bursary is open to all applicants who have no formal training in sake and want to progress their career. This can be related to any goal in the sake industry: a sommelier, a brewer, an importer, a distributor.

All applicants must submit an essay highlighting any relevant experience and illustrating why they believe they should be awarded the First Sips Bursary. Once selected, the winner of the bursary will be immersed in sake culture and rewarded with a complimentary place on their nearest Certified Sake Sommelier course.

Note: the recipient of each First Sips Bursary must be located in a country with a licenced SSA Sake Educator who can train them.

How to Enter:

Do you work in the wine and spirits industry and want to broaden your horizons? Are you a Japanese culture enthusiast searching for a specific field to become an expert in? Or do you simply love sake?

Application is open to anyone aged between 18 and 30 without prior education in sake. All Young Sake Ambassadors must have not already earned their Certified Sake Sommelier qualification.

If you are interested in applying for the next Young Sake Ambassador of the Year, please email info@sakesommelierassociation.com

The Organisers:

Sake is steadily becoming the trendy choice of beverage around the world. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics draws near, Japanese culture is expected to gain an even wider audience around the world. In response to this global trend, and with the success of the Sake Sommelier of the Year, SAKE SOMMELIER ASSOCIATION has partnered with JAPAN JIZAKE COOPERATIVE (one of the most dynamic and innovative sake associations in Japan) to establish two new sake titles.

The Japan Jizake Cooperative was established in 1975 by a group of sake breweries across Japan under the authorisation of the Minister of Finance to create a business model for promoting locally sourced sake. The word Jizake, which translated literally means “sake of the land,” was coined by the cooperative. It has been defined as sake made with locally sourced quality ingredients, loved by the people of that region; colloquially “The local brew”. The Cooperative continues to contribute to the promotion of Jizake in Japan and abroad.

The Sake Sommelier Association (SSA) is an independent organisation formed to develop the understanding and appreciation of Japanese sake through education. It is the first organisation to offer English sake education in the UK, with educators providing sake courses from beginners to professional level in over 30 cities, we have nurtured over 2,000 certified sake sommeliers over the world. Our hope is to become the communication platform for the Sake experts and lovers in the world.

Previous Ambassadors

  • Sake Ambassador 2019

    Corinne Mui has contributed to sake education through her sake courses at AWSEC, and she has been greatly influential, introducing many wine fans to the sake world. Corinne captures the interest of wine aficionados on account of her impressive wine education and numerous qualifications; she has also visited numerous sake breweries in Japan.
  • winner2019

  • Young Sake Ambassador 2018

    Francesco Contento was born in Monopoli in Italy and grew up in the hospitality environment helping his father at his three restaurants. Francesco grew to love this world and later decided to pursue it in his academic life. After 5 years of school, his curiosity to find new inspiration led him to leave his family home and to travel to new countries. Four years ago, Francesco moved to London and started to work for Partridges, which proved to be the perfect environment in which to grow. He discovered new products, new methods, and plenty of new things to learn. Francesco has been given the opportunity to major in the wine sector, and this is something that he is now pursuing with dedication and passion.
  • winner2018

  • Young Sake Ambassador 2016

    Jacopo Armenio is a Sales Executive from Italy and fan of Japanese culture, who developed a passion for sake when he tasted some while living with Japanese people. He took a trip to Japan to visit a brewery and try sake from a variety of different regions. He loves the versatility of sake, and its rich history, and would like to build a worldwide network of sake fans and sommeliers.
  • winner2016

    “Sake, light in colour, full of flavour”

  • Sake Ambassador 2015・2016

    François Lavergne’s (pictured left) passion for sake began more than 20 years ago when he was sent to Tokyo as a trained oenologist to open Cordon Bleu’s third international cooking school. It was there he fell in love with the country, both for its culture and history as well as its sake. As one of the first to make sake centred events across the world (from Dubai to France and beyond) François created new pairings that saw sake paired with both chocolate and macaroons. He also designed new takes on classic cocktails devising drinks such as the Sake Spritz.

  • winner2016

    “It is nice to know that your efforts are being recognised. It has been a long road getting sake appreciation this far and I am very grateful to be honoured for my work. I hope in a few years it will be Mai, or Miguel standing where I am today as the Sake Ambassador”.

  • Young Sake Ambassador 2015

    Mai. E Segawa (pictured left) is from Washington, D.C. Mai was born on March 3rd, on Japanese Girl’s Day (also known as Hinamatsuri) a holiday that celebrates the empowerment of young women with the traditional drink shiro sake, Mai recently graduated from the University of Oxford with her Master’s degree in Migration Studies. She is currently working at her father’s Japanese restaurant, Tako Grill in the Washington D.C.-Metropolitan area.

  • winner2015
    “ I am very honoured. It is a special chance to see inside the once mysterious world of the sake industry that a young person like me would not normally have access to.”

    Sake Ambassadors


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