January 29, 2016 – Japan’s Nikka Whisky was the big winner in Whisky Magazine’s 2016 Icons of Whisky final preliminary round, winning overall Distiller of the Year honors along with the Distillery Manager of the Year for Yoichi’s Koichi Nishikawa. In addition, Yoichi took runner-up “highly commended” honors for Visitor Attraction of the Year behind Ireland’s Teeling Whiskey Company in Dublin. The final round covers all whisky-producing countries other than Scotland and the United States, which were honored in the two previous preliminary rounds. The winners in each category will compete for the overall Icons of Whisky Awards to be announced in March on the eve of Whisky Live in London.
Andy Watts of South Africa’s James Sedgwick Distillery was named Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year, with Suntory’s Shinji Fukuyo taking the “highly commended” honor. Compass Box was named Brand Innovator of the Year, just ahead of Taiwan’s Kavalan/King Car Distillery. Ireland’s Tullamore D.E.W. was the runner-up for Distiller of the Year, while Kilbeggan’s Hugh Gaynor was the runner-up in the Distillery Manager of the Year category. Canada’s Still Waters Distillery was named Craft Producer of the Year, with Ireland’s Glendalough and Belgium’s Owl Distillery receiving “highly commended” honors.
In the categories for brand ambassadors, Amrut’s Ashok Chokalingam was named World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year and James Goggin of England’s Maverick Drinks the American Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year. In an unusual twist, Beam Suntory Canadian-based ambassador Matt Jones was the runner-up in both categories. Beth Havers of PMA/William Grant & Sons was named the Scotch Whisky Ambassador of the Year, while Goggin was the runner-up in that category. Tullamore D.E.W.’s John Quinn was named Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year over Teeling Whiskey’s Stephen Teeling. Finally, Tullamore D.E.W.’s Mary Hensey was named Visitor Attraction Manager of the Yeer, just ahead of David McCabe of Irish Distillers’ Irish Whiskey Academy at Midleton Distillery.
In the categories for retailers, Dublin’s Celtic Whiskey Shop was named Single-Outlet Retailer of the Year, with South Africa’s WhiskyBrother and Canada’s Kensington Wine Market highly commended. Paris-based La Maison du Whisky was named Multiple-Outlet Retailer of the Year over South Africa’s Picardi Rebel and Vom Fass of Germany. Master of Malt received Online Retailer of the Year honors ahead of Australia’s Dan Murphy’s and Italy’s Lion’s Whisky. The DFS whisky shop at Singapore’s Changi Airport was named Travel Retailer of the Year over World of Whiskies at London’s Heathrow Airport and Aer Rianta’s Irish Whiskey Collection shop at Dublin International Airport. Finally, Sainsbury’s was named Supermarket Retailer of the Year over Waitrose.