06 November 2015
by Stephen Lacey

St Agnes Brandy XO wins best in class at Hong Kong spirits competition


The winning St Agnes XO Imperial (right), with the original 15-year-old (left), and 40-year-old Grand Reserve (centre).

St Agnes XO 20-year-old Imperial was awarded the trophy for Best Brandy at the prestigious Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition held on Wednesday night.

The XO Imperial was one of two new premium releases from the South Australian distillery this year, along with the XO Grand reserve 40 Year Old. Both had already picked up double gold at the 2015 Melbourne International Spirits Competition in July.

"It's nice to get these sorts of accolades," says Richard Angove, director of St Agnes distillery and Angove Family Winemakers. "I was super excited when the results were announced. It shows that Australian craft spirits can compete with the best of the best on the world stage and come out on top."


Richard, John and Victoria Angove's family distillery is based in Renmark, South Australia.

Richard, John and Victoria Angove's family distillery is based in Renmark, South Australia.

Family legacy
Richard's father John Angove spoke to Executive Style earlier this year, where he told us that he'd like to see brandy as revered as gin and whisky currently are. The latest award will go some way towards raising the profile of brandy.

The distillery, based in Renmark, South Australia, was founded by Richard Angove's great grandfather, Carl, following a trip to Cognac in France. He set up the distillery in 1925 and has been producing quality brandy ever since. During the 1950s and '60s brandy was the most popular spirit in Australia, but gradually fell out of fashion.

It shows that Australian craft spirits can compete with the best of the best.


Richard Angove, director of St Agnes distillery.

Blending barrels
St Agnes master distiller Ben Horley created the Imperial XO from barrels dating back to the '70s, '80s, and '90s. (The 20-year old age statement represents the youngest component).

In total, seven different spirits were used, with the oldest being a 40-year-old. Richard Angove admits it's his personal favourite, preferring it to the XO Grand Reserve.

"We had a lot more components to work with, and so it has that lovely aged character but also freshness and vibrancy," Angove says. "I'm talking lifted fruit and flavours such as orange blossom and chocolate orange; with an almost sherry character, along with prunes, stone fruit, some cedar, and spiciness. It's an ethereal spirit with a long finish."

Opulence beyond the price
The brandy retails for around $200.

The Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition also saw St Agnes pick up a gold medal for their more affordable XO 15-year-old ($99).

"Winning a gold medal for our entry level XO shows what great value it really is," Angove says. "It's still a 15-year old spirit in that typical Australian XO style, with lovely fruit, rich toffee and caramel character.

It exudes opulence that belies its price."