IWSC awards excellence in wines and spirits at its 49th Banquet
The finest of the wine and spirit industries were celebrated this week at the IWSC’s gala dinner and awards ceremony, held at the iconic Guildhall in the City of London.
Almost 500 international guests were in attendance alongside industry veterans, including Facundo Bacardi, Sir George Fistonich, Jancis Robinson OBE MW, and Neil McGuigan.
English wine producer Ridgeview (above right) was crowned with the top award, Winemaker of the Year, sponsored by Amazon, while William Grant & Sons received Distiller of the Year.
“It was a fabulous evening – we’re still buzzing”, said Mardi Roberts, marketing and communications director of Ridgeview.
Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com meanwhile received his trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year, sponsored by Vinitaly, with Tom Sandham of the Thinking Drinkers announced as Spirits Communicator of the Year, sponsored by Chivas Brothers.
In his speech, Cannavan (pictured) noted that wine drinkers are beset from all sides – by the health lobby demonising alcohol in all forms, by government introducing punitive laws (in Scotland as he pointed out, it’s illegal to discount cases of wine). It’s time, he said, to celebrate the joy of wine, one of the most complex drinks known to man.
“Tonight I had two delicious wines from estates I hadn’t come across before. The IWSC gets these wines in front of journalists and opinion formers and that’s a boost for the industry and for wine lovers everywhere.
“The evening for me was one of the best of the awards dinners – the setting is magnificent, it was extremely well-run, the food was of the highest quality – a great evening whether you won an award or not,” he said.
Clara Rubin and Sukhinder Singh were also among those celebrated for their contributions to the industry, picking up the awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Wine and Scotch Whisky Industries respectively. This is Singh’s third big win at the IWSC, with his company The Whisky Exchange receiving Retailer of the Year and Independent Spirits Retailer of the Year in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Jancis Robinson OBE MW (pictured) also took to the stage to receive the IWSC’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award; “I’m not hanging up my laptop any time soon,” she stressed.
Robinson paid tribute to the IWSC, which she said has “a new lease of life for its 50th anniversary” and for its important role in “bringing together wines and spirits – we should celebrate every facet of the drinks world”.
IWSC General Manager Adam Lechmere said “As we start our 50th anniversary year, the IWSC is in fighting form. Five minutes after launch, our new magazine and club, the Club Oenologique, is the talk of the UK and international wine world. Major changes are planned in the organisation of the IWSC, getting the competition into robust shape to turbocharge our way through the next 50 years.
“Wednesday night’s Banquet was the perfect showcase for our dynamic competition – the magnificent Guildhall was rocked to its ancient rafters by the cheers of the hundreds of companies from every corner of the world winning trophies – there was a mood of celebration and anticipation, making absolutely clear to anyone, anywhere, involved in wines and spirits that the IWSC is the only show in town.”
Over 100 trophies were presented in total, from International Gin Producer (The Kyoto Distillery) and Vodka Producer (Adnams Copper House Distillery) to Australian Wine Producer (Kilikanoon Wines) and US Wine Producer (Delicato Family Vineyards).
Read the full results magazine online here.
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- “As a start-up brand you focus hard on achieving credibility and creating awareness. Winning Gold Outstanding and the Mezcal Trophy provided us with a level of credibility and exposure that we simply could not have achieved on our own. The awards helped secure key listings in Harvery Nichols and Selfridges and certainly played a significant part in opening up dialogue with potential U.S importers and ultimately securing one. I thought hard about which competition to enter and what the return on that investment would be. I can say with absolute confidence that the IWSC was worth every penny.”David ShepherdFounder & Director, Corte Vetusto
- “IWSC is a very important competition to us in terms of showing consumers our quality. It's one of the competitions that we definitely enter on a yearly basis.”Ian ChangMaster Blender, Kavalan Distillery
- “Out of all of the awards, the IWSC is probably the most prestigious and most honest awards. You choose your judges very well and they're very good, honest, decent people. They do it for the love of the industry.”Sukhinder SinghMD, The Whisky Exchange
- “The IWSC is a very prestigious competition. The prestige is a great thing to be able to communicate to our customers who have great respect for it.”David PorterOperations & Buying, Lea & Sandeman
- “The IWSC represents everything, without a doubt. There's no better competition in the world where you can judge yourself not just against your countrymen but against the rest of the world.”Andy AndersonWinemaker, Takapoto Estate
- “Fantastic company and fantastic award . . . In the wine industry, having an award like this is such an accolade.”Claire GriffithsCommercial Director, Vina Cono Sur
- “It's one of the greatest international awards you can get. It's similar to an Oscar, if you like.”Lenz MoserWinemaker, Yantai Changyu Pioneer Company
- “Because of the number of international judges that are tasting the wines and the number of wines that are being entered, it’s a great privilege for us to receive this award. The history of the competition, the standing that it has amongst the international wine world and certainly amongst one’s peers, to be able to get an award at the IWSC means a lot. There are a lot of competitions around the world – this probably represents the top award you could get as a winemaker.”Gary & Kathy JordanWinemakers, Jordan Wine Estate
- “It’s a great honour to win especially as nowadays people are focusing on the quality not just the numbers, so it does mean a huge amount getting recognition from an institution as well sought after as the IWSC.”Chris BlandyOwner, Blandy's Wines
- “This will be a recognition that will help in building the brand further, and building its prestige around the world.”Victor FuentesDirector General, El Coto de Rioja S.A
- “The IWSC is a well renowned, well looked up to standard and a symbol of premium products so it’s a great achievement to win any award.”Andrea FreeboroughCellar Master, Nederburg Wines