Solid Gold for SA's Liquid gold at International Brandy Show

Wednesday, 28 August, 2013
SA Brandy Foundation
South African brandies continue to have international connoisseurs in raptures. Eight of the country’s leading labels have been deemed worthy of the Gold Outstanding award of distinction at the 2013 International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) held in London recently.

Among those receiving a score of 90 or higher on the 100-point scale were three pot-still brandies from the Van Ryn’s Brandy Cellar in Stellenbosch: the Van Ryn’s Collectors Reserve 20 Year Old, the Fine Cask Reserve 15 Year Old and the Distillers Reserve 12 Year Old. The other Gold Outstanding awards went to the Oude Meester Souverein 18 Year Old and Reserve 12 Year Old, the Nederburg Solera Potstilled (a three-year-old) and the Mellow-Wood and Commando blended brandies.

Nine other brandies received Gold awards: Imoya, Mellow-Wood Five Year Old, Van Ryn’s Vintage 10 Year Old, Richelieu Export Liqueur Brandy, Richelieu Old Vintage Brandy 10 Year Old, Oude Meester Demant, Klipdrift Premium, Collison’s White Gold Potstilled and Viceroy Five Year Old.

A further 10 Silver Outstanding and 3 Silver awards gave South African brandy, with the third-highest number of entries (40) after Cognac (56) and Armagnac and Calvados (47), a ‘high hit rate’, said the inimitable Dave Hughes. A qualified distiller and local and international wine and spirit judge of longstanding repute, Hughes is a regular taster at the IWSC. He was one of 17 expert brandy palates from around the world (including France, the UK, South Africa, the USA, Germany, Italy and India) who served on two panels of at least five judges ‘blind’ tasting this year’s more than 200 entries from all the major brandy-producing countries over three days.

South Africa’s top achievers were variously described as a ‘masterpiece of satisfaction’, ‘incredibly rich’, ‘satisfying and relaxing in a luxurious way’ and having ‘superb balance’.

Hughes has commented before that: “South Africa’s modern brandies are notably fruity and elegant, a particular result of our sun-warmed vines. What is emerging is that the international panels of judges, predominantly leading UK and European (including Cognac) spirits buyers and distillers, are enjoying this distinctive style.”

He points out that South African brandy makers have become world experts on the effects of wood-ageing on fine wine spirit following research by a local brandy master. “The change in style from the traditionally heavily wooded cognac, which many countries are still trying to copy, has come through better management of the ageing of the spirit in carefully cured and select barrels.’

According to Christelle Reade-Jahn, director of the South African Brandy Foundation, the local industry can be particularly proud of the fact that South African brandies across the style spectrum – blended, vintage and pot-stilled – are being acknowledged internationally for their superior quality.

The South African Brandy Foundation:

Contact Christelle Reade-Jahn, Director or Danie Pretorius, General Manager

Tel 021 809 7617 email