by WhiskyBrother Marc
Icons of Whisky 2021 (Rest of World)
Whisky Magazine’s annual Icons of Whisky awards for 2021 kicked off last week with the winners of various regions being announced. The awards are split into six regions: America, Australia, China, Ireland, Scotland and Rest of World (which includes South Africa), and the winners of each region then go on to compete for the global title.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the results couldn’t be presented in person this year. Instead, the Icons of Whisky team hosted virtual presentations to announce the regional winners.
The Rest of World region was announced last Thursday, and we are incredibly excited and honoured to have been recognized in two categories: Single Outlet Retailer (winner) and Online Retailer (highly commended).
This is the second year in a row we have won Single Outlet Retailer, and the first time we have received recognition in the Online Retailer category.
The online award is especially gratifying at the moment as the global pandemic has pushed many to buy online, and we've experienced that trend firsthand. We take great pride in our website and always strive to make it an extension of the physical store where customers can easily find what they need and receive clear information in a specialty shopping environment. As importantly, we focus on efficient processing and reliable logistics to ensure customers consistently receive their order safely and timeously.
These awards come at the end of a very disruptive and challenging year. Not only globally but also specifically in SA with multiple alcohol bans completely closing our business for weeks/months on end. But with the support of our amazing customers and dedication of our team, we’ve still managed to garner recognition for our work.
Whisky Hall of Fame
It will come as little surprise that master distiller Andy Watts was again recognised this year for his contribution to South African whisky. This time though, it was no “mere” award he received but rather an induction into Whisky Magazine’s Whisky Hall of Fame! The honour of Whisky Hall of Fame has been bestowed on just a handful of iconic people since its inception in 2004, as a permanent tribute to their lasting contribution to the whisky industry. Andy is only the 70th inductee.
We gave Andy a call to ask how he feels about his induction and he had the following to say:
How did it feel when you were watching along and realised after a few moments that they were describing you as the latest inductee?
It was very surreal... the business had apparently known for two weeks but they managed to keep the news away from me. My first reactions as it became obvious were that I wished my Dad was still with us, and that I wanted to hug and share the moment with anyone... neither being possible due to COVID! As the news sank in and the messages started coming in, a kind of warm numbness came over me. The next few hours were just a blur!
You aren’t a stranger to international recognition but what does entering the Hall of Fame differ and mean to you?
With the Hall of Fame it is not a competition so there are no expectations; it is your peers in your industry who deem that your work and contribution to the world of whisky, in my case 37 years, is worthy of such a nomination and induction. To actually hear that I have helped shape the world of whisky in such a way is mind blowing and incredibly humbling at the same time.
Andy- I am sure it is safe to say that on behalf of ALL fans of South African whisky (whether local or globally), we send your our sincerest congratulations and thank you for your dedication, decades of service and creation of so many delicious whiskies. We are so proud of you and know your recognition at the highest level is deserved and an appropriate testament to your craftmanship.
ICONS OF WHISKY WINNERS
There are also four more reasons to be proudly South African, with the following companies/individuals receiving awards in the region: (A big congratulations to them all!)
- Distell - Distiller, Highly Commended
- Copper Republic Distilling - Brand Innovator, Highly Commended
- David Dube (Bains Whisky) - Distillery Manager, Highly Commended
- Simon Dicks (James Sedgwick Distillery) - Visitor Attraction Manager, Winner
Andy's induction, the Icons of Whisky Global Awards and the World Whiskies Awards winners will be announced on 25 March during an online ceremony.