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Media Release

Lucrative Chinese Market a Step Closer for New Zealand Schnaps Maker after Zumwohl Scores Triple Wins at China’s Biggest Spirits Awards

New Zealand’s own premium schnaps, Zumwohl, has scooped two medals and a trophy at the inaugural China Spirits Awards, judged by leading China-based spirits buyers tasked with finding the world’s best drinks for the Chinese palate.

The panel of 100 judges including leading importers, distributors, wholesalers and bar/restaurant group owners awarded Zumwohl Natural a gold medal together with a trophy for best schnaps/ brandy/aperitif and Zumwohl Kirsch a silver medal. Zumwohl was the only New Zealand spirit to win at the recent awards held in Hong Kong.

Aotearoa Distillers Ltd Director, Ulf Fuhrer, says winning the awards is particularly significant as leverage for potential sales into China for the Wellington-based company, which currently exports to Australia and has set its sights on entering the Chinese market as well as other international markets such as the United States. Chinese drinkers have traditionally favoured brandy but are becoming more mature in their tastes, according to China Spirits Awards organisers. “The Chinese demand for imported spirits is booming and the industry consensus is that China will be the largest spirits market in the world,” organisers say.

Fuhrer says the awards have delivered an unprecedented level of brand recognition for Zumwohl amongst a ‘who’s who’ of professional spirits buyers that money cannot buy. “This is the biggest spirits competition in Greater China and is uniquely placed to help us turn a win into further export success in that it is judged by the buyers themselves, who between them import more than 50 million bottles of alcoholic beverages annually.

“These buyers know what Chinese consumers want to drink and what will sell in Greater China so we are delighted that they have given Zumwohl a big thumbs-up.

“Our success in Hong Kong confirms that we made the right decision to focus on the Chinese market and our hard work over the past year travelling to China to come to grips with the market and fine-tuning aspects of our offerings has paid off.”

With this latest accolade, Zumwohl can now lay claim to the distinction of being the world’s most awarded schnaps, Fuhrer adds. The German-born New Zealander founded the company in 2008 after struggling to find top quality German-style schnaps to drink in New Zealand, as opposed to the syrupy American ‘schnapps’ liqueur varieties commonly available here.

Zumwohl’s international awards haul now sits at 14 medals and one trophy, which includes a gold for Zumwohl Natural, silver for Zumwohl Feijoa and bronze for Zumwohl Kirsch at the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition in London earlier this year, beating out the Germans at making their national tipple. Judges tasting notes in London described Zumwohl Natural as a “highly refined spirit” with a “hint of fruitiness” and “beautiful balance and elegant stance”.

Aotearoa Distillers is among a new breed of innovative and growing New Zealand spirits firms identified in a recent report, Investment Opportunities in the New Zealand Alcoholic Spirits Industry, commissioned as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Food & Beverage Project. The report found that local spirits account for $58.9 million in exports, which grew at a compound rate of 10 per cent a year over the past decade.

The report says the local spirits industry is still at the early phase of its growth cycle. “We expect continued growth for the foreseeable future.”

Further information: /


Ulf Fuhrer, Aotearoa Distillers Ltd, phones (04) 233 9992 (office), 022 0800 853 (mobile), email:

Anamika Vasil, Communicator, phone: 021 494 005 (mobile), email: