Craft spirits get a boost as Michelangelo announces another “first”
The Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards has announced that it has joined forces with the South African Craft Distillers Institute (SACDI), which will – for the first time – allow craft distillers to submit their products to a panel of international spirits experts. To reinforce its commitment and at the same time encourage craft distillers to enter the competition, SACDI has introduced four trophies which will be awarded to products considered tops in their categories. Medals will also be awarded to deserving gin, rum and vodka entries.
“We pride ourselves on being innovative and are always investigating new market opportunities,” says Michelangelo CEO, Lorraine Immelman. “The growing wave of craft spirits producers – backed by an increasing demand from craft spirits consumers – has been the motivation behind this development. Setting benchmarks in any market through healthy competition lifts and sets standards which in turn justify consumer expectations and offers ample exciting marketing opportunities – it’s a win-win situation!”
- In 2006 the Michelangelo introduced South Africa’s first Brandy Trophy and in 2014 Michelangelo became the first competition in South Africa to add liqueurs and spirits to its judging line-up.
Four trophies for craft spirits producers
Founder of the South African Craft Distillers Institute, Gert Bosman, comments that the decision to sponsor Michelangelo trophies for craft spirits, is aimed at acknowledging the abilities and talents of these true craft distillers: “SACDI, Distillique and the Michelangelo would like to acknowledge small commercial craft distillers for bringing us not only the best of their distilled spirits to experience and enjoy, but contained therein also the distilled sum of their passion, their knowledge and their art.”
Says Gert , “many of these small distillers were keen on starting a commercial distillery and needed specialist services to get them up and running. To this end the institute offers these entrepreneurs assistance with training and marketing while educating the public on the craft spirit philosophy. The institute also assists craft distillers in purchasing individual distilling consumables, otherwise only available in bulk.
In 2010 Gert Bosman produced and published a short manual entitled “How to legally distil at home in South Africa” on the internet. The resulting wave of interest brought about training courses, the manufacturing and selling of home distilling equipment and the establishing of the company Distillique.
During the 2016 SACDI conference in Pretoria, more than 100 craft distillers attended. In less than seven years, craft distilleries in South Africa have grown from only two commercial small craft distilleries to more than 60. In the current market more than 800 stills are owned by private individuals and more than 4000 people have been trained in small scale distilling.
The current phenomenal growth encountered in the industry was already predicted in 2014 when research indicated that market saturation in South Africa would be achieved in approximately 2028. However, the demand for true craft spirits is surpassing predictions and demand is growing much faster than anticipated: “we see new craft spirits labels almost monthly,” says Gert.
He feels passionate about the “spirited” individuals who produce craft spirits in the true sense of the craft ethos: in small distilleries in small batches, taking personal care of each of the process steps, from fermentation to eventual blending. The ultimate reward lies in producing traditional spirits with new exciting flair: unique spirits never dreamt of before.”
*Entries for the 2017 Michelangelo opens on 1 June. All documentation will be available on the Michelangelo website from that date (www.michelangeloawards.com). Enquiries may be directed to Gert Bosman on 083 263 7832 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Lorraine Immelman on 082 556 8679.