Vodka honors, with a twist

When you think vodka, you probably don't think sugar cane. Or South Africa.

The judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in England, however, obviously do. They awarded the top vodka honor to Mainstay, a South African brand which is sugar-cane based.

The judging panel described Mainstay as "exceptionally clean on the nose … Lively attack in the mouth with a slight sweetness and some fine floral and fruity notes. More complex and full bodied than most. Very attractive and well distilled product ... Ends with bright, zesty, clean finish."

Other winners of IWSC Spirit Trophies, announced Friday:

Aquavit: Aalborg Taffel Akvavit

Fruit Spirits: Zwack Unicum Fekete Ribizke

Gin: Beefeater Crown Jewel

Liqueur: Amarula Cream Liqueur

• Rum: Inner Circle Green 57%

Worldwide Whiskey: Van Winkle 12 Year Old Lot B

• Shochu: Long Term Stored Soba Shochu NAYUTA NO TOKI

• Sake: Daiginjo Sato-Uhee 2006

• Brandy: KWV Platinum 15 year old Brandy

Cognac: Prince Hubert de Polignac XO Grande Champagne

Blended Scotch Whisky: William Grant Rare & Extraordinary 25 Year Old

Single Malt Scotch Whisky (over 15): Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1990

• Single Malt Scotch Whisky (15 and under): The Balvenie Portwood 1993

• Special Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1990

Cask Strength Scotch Whisky: Duncan Taylor Cask Strength Tomatin 41 Year Old Rare Auld Scotch Whisky

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