South Africa is standing tall mid-way in the 2018 Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky awards held in London.

Distell has been named Rest of the World Distiller of the Year and Andy Watts took the title of Rest of the World Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year. 

There was strong competition from the innovative whisky countries favoured among the whisky connoisseurs — South Africa beat contenders from Taiwan, Japan and Europe to go into the final stage to compete against the country winners of Scotland, America, Ireland, India and Australia for the World Icon titles. 

The introduction of Bain’s to the UK and Germany and the innovation around Three Ships had an impact on these accolades. 

Distiller Andy Watts says innovative whiskies from non-traditional countries have over the past 10 years overcome the odds against the perceived perception that only traditional whisky producing countries can be taken seriously. 

“The younger the industry, the more open we are to innovation. We’ve seen this across all the Rest of the World contenders with the ability to be agile, to create whiskies of difference with interesting styles and finishes which are finding favour with whisky consumers,” he says. 

Andy Watts took the title of Rest of the World Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year - pic supplied

Watts adds: “We’ve had many hurdles the past 40 years whilst establishing our portfolio of whiskies and we share a common set of challenges with all the non-traditional whisky producing countries but what this means is that we’re constantly pushing the boundaries, coming up with solutions unique to our own climate, and finding creative ways to use home-grown raw material to our best advantage. It’s an exciting time to be part of the whisky industry and awards such as these contribute to our passion and on-going commitment to excel.” 

His vision for the young South African whisky industry – 40 years to be exact - has been to create whiskies with intrigue which led to the Three Ships brand creating the Master’s Collection with a yearly release of limited edition and special cask finishes with great success. 

Watts says: “With whisky appealing to a new generation of drinkers who embrace authenticity, gravitate towards products with a story to tell and migrate to those that can offer them something different from the norm, the world is now one big whisky producing community.”

The final Icons awards along with the announcement of the World’s Best Whiskies will take place at the prestigious World Whisky Awards Dinner to be held at the famous Waldorf Hotel in London on 22 March 2018.