IWSC unveils top awards for 2011

McGuigan Wines and William Grant & Sons scooped the biggest awards of the evening at the International Wine & Spirit Competition annual banquet.

Held last night at the Guildhall in London, the evening culminated with the announcement of Australian producer McGuigan Wines as IWSC Winemaker of the Year, while Scottish-based William Grant & Sons scooped IWSC International Distiller of the Year.

Having previously won the same award in 2009, this year McGuigan Wine was helped on its way to the top prize by taking home the IWSC Trophy for Semillon thanks to its McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon.

Reacting to the news, chief winemaker Neil McGuigan said: “To have won Winemaker of the Year once is phenomenal, but to be recognised by our industry peers as Winemaker of the Year twice in just three years is mind blowing.”

Celebrating his company’s achievement, McGuigan highlighted: “To put this in perspective, we won the same number of Gold Best in Class awards as the entire German industry, and the entire Chilean industry; and more than the sum total of Portuguese table wines – an amazing achievement for a single producer.”

Other big awards on the night saw Waitrose win Retailer of the Year, while Manchester-based merchant Hangingditch collected the Independent Retailer of the Year. The trophy for Wine Buying Team of the Year went to Sainsburys, with discounter Lidl taking home the prize for Spirits Buying Team of the Year.

Hallgarten Druitt and Emporia were awarded Wine Importer of the Year and Spirits Importer of the Year respectively.

The evening also saw the introduction of a new award for Outstanding Contribution to Wine, which was sponsored by Waitrose and awarded posthumously to the retailer’s former head of wine buying, Julian Brind MW, who died last year.

The award balances the Outstanding Contribution to Whisky prize, which this year was given to Glen Barclay, director of legal affairs for the Scotch Whisky Association.

During his speech, IWSC president, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, owner of Domaine Clarence Dillon, congratulated his fellow winemakers for receiving the highest recognition from their peers. He also welcomed in the competition’s president for 2012, Mauricio González Gordon, chairman of González Byass.

For a full list of this year’s winners, click here or see the drinks business IWSC Report 2011, out with the December issue.

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