The world of spirits is constantly evolving. The South African market for distilled beverages is no different. As technology and competition flourish, distilleries are rethinking their strategies to stay afloat.
It is no secret that the South African liquor industry has experienced very challenging conditions in the past two years. The South African government has most likely been one of the strictest when it comes to alcohol bans during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Yet, local distilleries have been putting in the hard yards to exceed all expectations during very difficult times. Here’s a look at some of the amazing efforts from SA’s finest distilleries:
Local distilleries that stood out in 2021
- Deluxe Distillery
Deluxe Distillery’s Blind Tiger Small Batch Gin was awarded double gold at the third annual SA Craft Gin Awards. This gin is produced in small batches in their copper pot still and every batch is unique and different. Blind Tiger is infused with juniper, coriander, angelica, passionflower, and lemongrass. It is an easy-drinking gin that’s both appealing and complex, yet not overwhelming.
South African Gin brand Flowstone walked away with three awards in the gin categories at The International Spirits Challenge. The brand was launched just four years ago, and they have since earned many awards. At the competition, the brand has earned two silver awards and one bronze for their Bushwillow, Snuffbox and Wild Cucumber Gin.
- Blomendahl Winery and Distillery
The Master Distiller Franz Josef Blomendahl, and his son Benedikt, being the youngest distiller and winemaker, together crafted ROXI’S Gin in 2019. Having won multiple awards even before the official launch back then, Roxi’s did not disappoint in 2021. The gin was awarded best in category for spice gins and received double gold at the SA Craft Gin Awards. This incredible gin is made with true African spices including Moroccan pepper, black caraway, and cinnamon.
Other distilleries that stood out at the SA Craft Gin Awards include Great Karoo Spirit’sBossieveld Mystique Craft Gin winning best in category for Botanical gins, Ginologist’s Orient gin winning best in category for London / African Dry gins, and Die Mas’ Kalahari Naartjie winning best in category for Fruit / Citrus gins.
Local spirits producer KWV became the first recipient of a perfect score at the Veritas Awards 2021 in the 31-year history of this esteemed competition. This outstanding achievement was awarded to KWV Brandy’s 15 Year Alambic Blend Potstill Brandy.
In May 2021, Tokara XO Pot Still brandy won a gold medal at the Brandy Masters competition in London. With its “all-round lovely aroma and incredible notes of “caramel” and “cereals”, this brandy entranced judges. Tokara XO Pot Still is crafted from a base wine of Chenin Blanc grapes grown in Tokara’s Stellenbosch vineyard and double distilled in a copper Pruhlo alembic pot still.
- Oude Molen
This year, Oude Molen Distillery was awarded two trophies in the 25th Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards. The distillery’s XO Cape Brandy impressed the judges enough to secure both the Multi-Color Corporation Spirits Grand Prix Trophy for the highest scoring spirits entry and the Mantis Brandy Trophy for the top scoring brandy.
- Copper Republic
Copper Republic’s Single Grain Bourbon Cask Whisky won Whiskey Magazine’s Brand Innovator of The Year Award in 2021. This is a small batch, double ex-Bourbon cask matured and handcrafted South African whisky. It is distilled from 100% South African yellow maize. Truly a rare and pure South African whisky.
- James Sedgwick Distillery
South Africa’s Three Ships Whisky,produced by James Sedgwick Distillery, won seven awards at the international San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) in 2021. This included the sought-after ‘Best in Show’ award for the brand’s Three Ships Whisky 5-Year-Old.This blend with its smooth finish was named Best Other Whisky and was awarded a double gold medal.
Andy Watts, Distell Master Distiller of Three Ships Whisky, was also bestowed the great honour of being inducted into Whisky Magazine’s Whisky Hall of Fame.
- Deep South Distillery
Vodka produced in South Africa has also made headlines in 2021. Deep South Premium Vodkawas awarded a silver medal at the IWSC of 2021. This wild cane spirit is tamed through careful distillation and cold-filtering, and carefully blended with pure water. The result is a full-bodied vodka with a silky-smooth taste and finished with aromatic sweet notes.
A challenging yet fruitful year for SA distilleries
Despite very challenging times, South African distilleries have once again showed their incredible potential. If this is what they can achieve during such unprecedented times, imagine what 2022 will bring. The future for South African spirits is certainly bright!