"Since the first SA brandy was distilled in 1672 by a cook's assistant on a ship anchored in the Table Bay harbour, our brandies have most certainly come a long way, now emerging as award-winning iconic products on the international stage" says Christelle Reade-Jahn, director of the SA Brandy Foundation.
Today, centuries on from its introduction to our shores, the evolution of South Africa's most treasured spirit encompasses a rich pioneering heritage, an impressive present and a future full of promise and development. Emerging triumphantly from its conventional cocoon, SA brandy is now accommodating innovative trends in taste and lifestyle – commanding respect, recognition and attention across the globe.
International markets are consistently recognising the outstanding quality of South African brandy and becoming unfailingly seduced by its dynamic nature and colourful personality. This is underscored by the fact that a South African brandy has won the acclaimed 'Worldwide Best Brandy' accolade at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) a staggering ten times in the past fourteen years.
"This is no mean feat for our country's winning brandies - the IWSC is hailed as the gold standard amongst global competition; the IWSC medal and trophies are the most prestigious honour of all," continues Reade-Jahn.
SA brandy producers also pulled off a rare coup at the prestigious 2012 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles wine and spirits competition. For the third year running local brandies scooped an incredible eight medals, including one Grand Médaille d'Or. Klipdrift Gold was the frontrunner at the event collecting the Grand Médaille d'Or, the highest accolade in the competition – a remarkable achievement for a local brand. Also in the Distell fold, the Van Ryn's 10 Year Old Vintage claimed a gold medal. KWV's 15 and 20 year old potstill brandies, as well as Distell's Oude Meester 18 Sovereign and Demant and Van Ryn's 12 year old Distillers Reserve and 15 year Old Fine Cask Reserve, all returned home triumphantly bearing silver medals.
The truth is SA is home to a string of champions; Oude Meester was the first to be judged the World's Best Brandy at the Half Century Wine Exhibition held in London way back in 1950. Distell, SA's largest brandy player, won the coveted title of Distiller of the Year at the IWSC in 2007 – the first time it has been awarded to a non-European and non-USA based company. It then repeated this remarkable achievement in 2008. The accolades bestowed upon our local brandies over the years re-affirm that international afficionados are enjoying the distinctive product of vines warmed under the African sun.
Dr Caroline Snyman, chairperson of the SA Brandy Foundation, says, "Our brandies perform at IWSC across the style spectrum – blended and pot-stilled. The winners are not only from the big distilleries, but also the smaller distilleries and wine cellars, confirming the spread of quality and depth of passion for and skill in brandy-making in this country."
|SA WINNERS OF THE IWSC|
|1995||Sydney Back||Backsberg Estate|
|1999||Oude Molen VOV 14yr||Oude Molen Distillery|
|2000||Imoya VSOP 14yr||KWV|
|2001||Oude Molen VOV 14yr||Oude Molen Distillery|
|2004||Van Ryn's 12yr Distillers Res.||Distell|
|2005||Van Ryn's Collection 12yr||Distell|
|2008||Van Ryn's 20yr||Distell|
|2009||Joseph Barry 10yr||Southern Cape Vineyards|
|2010||Laborie Alambic||Laborie Estate|
|2011||Van Ryn's 20yr Collectors Res.||Distell|
|2012||Van Ryn's 12yr Distillers Res.||Distell|