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IWSC reveals 2015 award winners

The IWSC announced 2015’s trophy winners at its annual awards banquet held in London’s Guildhall last night.

The banquet was held at London’s Guildhall last night

Big winners on the night included South Africa’s Kanonkop Wine Estate, Marks & Spencer, Kent’s Gusbourne Estate and London Wine Bar, Sager + Wilde.

Celebrating its 46th year, the IWSC is known for its rigorous seven month judging process which includes a double blind tasting and chemical analysis of submitted wines and spirits. Entries are judged by more than  300 experts from 30 different countries.

“The IWSC remains true to its core objective of seeking and rewarding excellence and as another year draws to a close, it’s fantastic to meet together in recognition of the achievements which have been made”, said Ewan Lacey, IWSC general manager. “I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our winners, guests and sponsors who make evenings like tonight possible and say a big congratulations to all trophy winners.”

The evening, which won Best Awards Event at The Conference Awards this year, included a five course banquet with winner’s wine pairings, speeches and the official presentation of its 2015 winners. It was also the culmination of the year for 2015 President, CEO of Australian Vintage, Neil McGuigan, who will be succeeded by Matteo Lunelli, of the Lunelli Group and Ferrari Winery, in 2016.

Click through to see some of this year’s big winners, and why the IWSC deemed them worthy of recognition. For a full list of winners please visit

Retailer of the Year Award and Wine Buyer of the Year Award

Marks & Spencer 

M&S wine buyer Dror Nativ

“This year saw a double a scoop for Marks and Spencer who picked up both the coveted Retailer of the Year and Wine Buyer of the Year Awards. This is the first time the international, multi-channel retailer has been awarded the prestigious Retailer of the year Award, recognising its innovative approach to the BWS category. Their plan to lead the market in bringing excellent products from lesser-known regions to the high street is one of the initiatives that impressed an independent panel of judges.”

Julian Brind Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Achievement in the Wine Industry

Michael & Charlotte Sager-Wilde

“The Julian Brind Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Achievement in the Wine Industry was awarded to Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde. The entrepreneurial couple have stormed London’s wine scene from wine bar pop-up to super-trendy permanent Hoxton venue, Sager + Wilde, mostly recently opening a new venue in London’s Bethnal Green, Mission, a restaurant with an already renowned wine list.”

Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky Award

Dennis Malcolm

“This year’s recipient for the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky was Dennis Malcolm. After 54 years in the industry and stints as distillery manager for Glen Grant, Glenlivet and Brand Ambassador for Strathisla, Dennis is now Managing Director and Master Distiller at Glen Grant.”

Winemaker of the Year Award

Abrie Beeslaar, Kanonkop

“The prestigious, Winemaker of the Year 2015 is Abrie Beeslaar, who has been recognised for his work at Kanonkop Wine Estate, South Africa. Having received the award previously in 2008, Abrie is taking his favourite grape, Pinotage, to new realms of quality – striving for balance structure and elegance.”

Distiller of the Year Award


Distell’s James Sedgewick Distillery in South Africa

“Distell was awarded Distiller of The Year due to their fresh approach to the spirits category. From the launch of African icon, Amarula, to today’s offering which includes Three Ships Whisky, Deanston Scotch whisky and Van Ryn’s single pot still brandy and Viceroy brandy, the company have displayed innovation, versatility and real growth.”

English Wine Producer of the Year Award

Gusbourne Estate

The Gusbourne team

“This year’s English Wine Producer of the Year Award goes to Kent’s Gusbourne Estate, having scooped two IWSC Gold medals and one Gold Outstanding makes them the only English winery to be awarded the IWSC’s highest accolade this year. Founded in 2004, the estate focuses on three traditional champagne grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.”

Independent Retailer of the Year Award

South Downs Cellars

Lucy Driver, founder of South Downs Cellars

“West Sussex-based South Downs Cellars has been named Independent Retailer of the Year for its extensive variety and offering. With a fluidly growing range of wines, beers and spirits spanning both local and global produce and its newly launched loyalty scheme, South Downs Cellar were rewarded for consistently catering to consumers’ needs whilst adding to their repertoire and knowledge.”

Online Retailer of the Year Award

The Whisky Exchange

The Whisky Exchange has been named 2015 Online Retailer of the Year for its informative, customer-centric approach. With around 3,000 single malt whiskies, 1,000 Bourbons, blended scotch and world whiskies as well as 4,000 spirits and liqueurs they stand by their aim to bring the ‘the retail experience into customers’ homes’.”

 Blogger of the Year Award

Matt Walls

“This year’s Blogger of the Year is Matt Walls whose industry credentials are well known, having previously worked for Bollinger Champagne, Mentzendorff and The Sampler as well as regularly writing for Decanter, Harpers and His blog (Matt Walls Wine Blog) won the top spot due to its practical approach to navigating the often complicated world of wine with tips, tricks and food pairings.”

Communicator of the Year Award

Tyson Stelzer & Joseph Bastianich

Joseph Bastianich
Tyson Stelzer


















“The Communicator of the year Award was awarded to two personalities this year, Tyson Stelzer and Joseph Bastianich. Tyson, is an award winning Australian writer, author, presenter and TV personality who, through his many projects, brings to life the story and people behind the wine. Joseph, who is an American restaurateur, Masterchef judge and author, has his heart firmly set on Italian food and wines. When it comes to consumers, he believes it’s all about education, whether that’s on the restaurant floor or in wine classes.”

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