A South African distiller has taken the title of Distiller of the Year in an internationally-run whisky competition, muscling out a Japanese contender for first place. Distell was declared Distiller of the Year by the authoritative Whisky Magazine in its 2015 Icons of Whisky competition, winning in the category that the organisers call ‘Rest of the World’. This region encompasses all producers from outside Scotland and the US. Nominations for the title were submitted for distillers operating as far afield as Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Australia, Japan and Taiwan.
Distell, which produces Bain’s Mountain Whisky and the Three Ships range of whiskies, both internationally awarded brands, will now go up against the top-ranked Scottish and American distillers of the year to decide on this year’s global Icons of Whisky winner, to be announced in March in London. The South African company is competing for the final honour against the BenRiach Distillery Company of Speyside, Scotland, and the Four Roses Distillery of Kentucky in the US.
“Global interest in whisky continues to soar and there is a fast-growing appreciation for those offerings originating beyond the traditional producing countries of Scotland and Ireland. We are very proud to have been voted the best distiller outside Scotland and America,” said Caroline Snyman, director of the company’s luxury brands with a portfolio.
Last year, Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask was ranked the world’s best whisky by Jim Murray, author of the World Whisky Bible. It was the first time a Japanese whisky won and was yet another signal to observers that world-class whiskies do not always have to originate in Scotland.
In 2013 Bain’s was judged the world’s best grain whisky at the 2013 World’s Whisky Awards, while Three Ships 5 Year Old won the title for world’s best blended whisky in 2012 at the same event.
Whisky Magazine, read by members of the spirits trade and whisky enthusiasts all over the world, also publishes editions in Japanese, Chinese and French.
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