SA wine and spirits – best in the world

Where spirits and wines are concerned, South Africa is punching above its weight, says founder of the Cape Wine Academy and international wine and spirit judge, Dave Hughes.
South Africa recently hit a trifecta at the 2016 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, bringing home no fewer than three trophies: for best worldwide brandy, best cognac and best vodka. It also took a surprise gold for gin.

“While Australia fields entries from around 30% of its wine producers, South Africa enters about 6%.

“They both win about 30% of trophies. So, both have the same number of awards, but Australia has a far bigger ratio of entries. It’s a reflection of how good South African wine and spirit has become in the past decade or so,” says Hughes.

Hughes has been involved with the International Wine and Spirits Competition, known by many as the “great-granddaddy of international competitions”, since its inception more than 40 years ago.

At this year’s competition, where 400 global experts judged products from almost 90 countries over a seven-month period, the vodka trophy went to Count Pushkin, world’s best cognac to Richelieu XO and it was a second consecutive win for Van Ryn’s 12-year-old brandy.

Hughes, who has authored a number of books on South Africa’s wine industry, said the vodka win for Count Pushkin was “a finger in everyone’s eye”. “People find it hard to believe, but it really is up there with the world’s best.”

Taking gold for gin was another bombshell. Stretton’s Double Cut London Dry Gin, produced by a small distillery in Elgin, won gold in a market “where gin is the flavour of the month and there were a huge number of entries”. – Source: