This isn’t news as the story broke 3 weeks ago, but I held off posting something as the news took a while to sink in. The news was that Andy Watts was chosen as the Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year in the Rest of the World category in the Icons of Whisky competition. It is a very important award, and further indication of just how far things have come in the whisky scene in South Africa.
The significance of the award is that South Africa is climbing higher and higher in the international whisky scene. Three Ships and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, produced at the James Sedgwick distiller in Wellington, a quiet town in the Western Cape, lead the charge. Andy, his right hand Jeff Green and the rest of the team have been quietly going about their business, picking up awards along the way. But ignore the awards, for a moment. Sit down in the bars and restaurants in South Africa, and listen to what whiskies people are ordering. See what whisky lovers around the world are talking about – Three Ships & Bain’s. Recently Andy went to America to launch Bain’s, to fantastic acclaim.
I’m sure Andy, the distillery and the whiskies will win more awards, and win more hearts. What they are doing is an example to anyone producing a product for the public – make it well and it will sell, making yourself a lot of friends on the way.
Here is the post from the Icons website:
Icons of Whisky Rest of World 2016
Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky Awards recognise and celebrate the finest companies and individuals in the whisky industry. With the America and Scotland regional winners already announced, the time has come to reveal those receiving an award in the Rest of World stage.
Regional winners of each category will now battle it out against each other for the overall Global title, judged by the magazine’s expert editorial panel and announced at the Whisky Magazine Awards dinner in London on 17 March 2016.
With new categories for 2016, including Master Distiller / Master Blender, Travel Retailer, World Whisky Ambassador and Supermarket, there is an opportunity for many sectors of the industry to be rewarded for their contribution.
Rupert Wheeler, Managing Editor and Chairman of the Icons of Whisky says: “The whisky industry is expanding worldwide with many new distilleries being planned to fulfil demand. These awards are in recognition of all those exceptional companies and individuals who are working hard to make their brand different and engaging. I look forward to presenting the overall Global winners in March.”
Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year
Andy Watts – The James Sedgwick Distillery (South Africa)
Since the James Sedgwick Distillery was established in 1886, it has only had six managers, one of which is current Master Distiller, Andy Watts. After spending some time in Scotland, Andy returned to South Africa to prove that this too could be an excellent whisky producing nation. The distillery’s Three Ships label was the first single malt to be produced in South Africa and Bain’s Cape the first single grain.
Andy has been instrumental in the success of this award winning distillery, putting the country on the whisky map.