Local producers were singled out yet again from a field of global entries at this year's International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in London, with no less than 27 medals and the trophy for Worldwide Best Brandy for KWV 15 Year Old.
The KWV 15 Year Old potstill brandy was selected as overall winner after it was selected as one of the top three South African brandies to receive Gold Outstanding along with Oude Meester 18 Year Old and Van Ryn's 20 Year Old. Gold Outstanding is denoted at the IWSC as products with “quality of the highest order”.
Gold medals - products defined as a "superior example that set the standard" - were won by Klipdrift Gold, KWV 12 Year Old and KWV 20 Year Old.
South African brandies dominate the IWSC year after year. In 2016, for the first time ever, South Africa won both brandy and cognac trophies at the world’s two major spirits competitions.
This year the challenge saw increased competition with more entries in the World Brandy class, including more countries represented as well. Nonetheless, double the number of Gold and Gold Outstanding medals were awarded to the South Africans, more than the entire category of Cognac, with the latter having far more entries than South Africa.
"Once again South African brandy has shown that you don't have to look far to find a product that is the best by international standard," says South African Brandy Foundation director Christelle Reade-Jahn.
This year, the panel that evaluated the grape brandy class comprised well-respected judges, including cognac experts, and was chaired by Cape Wine Master and experienced brandy judge, Dr Winifred Bowman.
"The quality gap between SA and the rest of the world, with perhaps the exception of a few Spanish examples is palpable and definitely one that was picked up by the other judges," she says.
"In the final round of the trophy judging, which took place a few weeks after the initial tasting - 8 out the 10 brandies that made the final cut were from South Africa.