About Us

The Sake Education Council (SEC), the first primarily English language-based organization created to promote sake education outside of Japan, will provide certification training and seminars around the world. Currently there are two levels of education and testing. Candidates passing Level I receive the title of Certified Sake Professional (CSP), while those passing Level II are designated Advanced Sake Professional (ASP). At present, almost 400 individuals from the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, Norway and Russia have received these prestigious distinctions.

Sake is Japan’s traditional alcoholic beverage with history dating to about 300 A.D. Brewed from rice, premium sake is uniquely different from wine or beer. Its popularity and acceptance is growing worldwide, especially in the United States. John Gauntner, the only non-Japanese developing and teaching structured sake education programs in English, heads the SEC. A resident of Japan for 22 years, Gauntner is supported by three other directors with diverse experience in the beverage world.

  • Master Sommelier and retailer Sally Mohr of Boulder, Colorado.
  • Restaurateur, consultant, and sake and spirits expert Paul Tanguay of New York.
  • International drinks consultant and sake and spirits expert Jonathan Driver of London.

All three hold the Advanced Sake Professional credential.

“To continue to make sake popular outside of Japan we must provide more learning opportunities, especially to the trade so they can be more comfortable selling sake,” said Gauntner.

Goal of the SEC

The SEC has as its overall and long-term goal the sake-related education of consumers and industry professionals of all levels in such a way that it contributes to the growth of the industry overall, as manifested in the sales of sake, market penetration of sake around the world and a continually deepening and increased understanding and appreciation of the all important aspects of sake and the sake world, including brewing methods and technology, history, culture and of course enjoyment of sake itself.

Board of Directors

John Gauntner


Paul Tanguay


Sally Mohr


Jonathan Driver