New Zealand has blitzed the field at a United States Whisky Olympiad, in a boost to the country's burgeoning whisky-making credentials.
Two rare whiskies from the New Zealand Whisky Collection won gold medals at the Mid West Whisky Olympics in Michigan, outperforming some of the world's most revered whiskies from Scotland, Ireland and Canada.
The 10-year-old Dunedin DoubleWood was crowned World's Best Blended Whisky. Silver went to Canada's Crown Royal and bronze to Jamesons of Ireland.
And the 21 year old South Island Single Malt whisky was named World's Best Single Malt in the same competition, beating the Silver Cross from Michigan's Journeyman Distillery and Scotland's Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve.
The New Zealand Whiskey Collection comprises 400 barrels of stock from the country's last distillery which closed in the 1990s. It has since been maturing in a towering Oamaru bondstore. Spokesman Greg Ramsay said the wins were a massive endorsement of its quality.
"For the Dunedin DoubleWood and South Island Single Malt to beat some of the best whiskies in the world in this event is testament to their pure, premium ingredients and the craftsmanship with which they were made," Mr Ramsay said.
"New Zealand is starting to take its rightful place as a producer of some of the world's great whiskies."
The Mid West Whisky Olympics were held at the Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan, and judged by a panel of 30 industry professionals, whisky and food writers and whisky enthusiasts. Along with Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the United States and New Zealand, Japan and Australia were also represented in the inaugural competition, which will return bigger and better next year.
"The Journeyman Distillery is one of the hottest whisky properties in the United States - it is showcasing the refined flavours of hand-crafted whiskies and everyone is talking about the place in Chicago," Mr Ramsay said.
Judges' comments on the Single Island Malt included "fruity nose, smooth honey mouthfeel and powerful vanilla finish", and on the Dunedin Doublewood: "toffee and fruity nose, fruity caramel on the palate and fruitcake finish."
Chicago-based writer Bill Daniels said: "I had no idea there is such a diversity of whisky being made- not only in America's craft distilleries, but new whisky frontiers being opened up right around the globe."
For more information about the New Zealand Whisky Collection, go to http://www.experienceconsulting.com.au or http://www.thenzwhisky.com