Compiled by Tracy Knox
When one thinks about South Africa
and what makes it what it is, a number
of thoughts come to mind: just a
few are rugby, braaing, the Big Five,
Table Mountain, Mrs Ball's chutney,
biltong and of course, brandy. And
the best of the best were on show
at this year's Fine Brandy Fusion
(previously the Fine Brandy Festival),
held at Sandton Convention Centre
over this past weekend.
Anyone partial to a drop of brandy would have
enjoyed this event, which first started out as a
small industry event and is now considered to
be one of the ultimate expressions of this luxury
product and the lifestyle surrounding it. To prove
this point, brandy lovers, celebrity guests and
Jozi’s social set braved the cold to savour South
Africa’s internationally admired brandies at the
highly-imaginative, interactive and boutique
Not just a social happening, this event also
served to highlight just how fine our locally
produced, individualistic brandies are, having
earned an incredible run of accolades at the
International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC)
over the past three decades. No fewer than
14 local brandies have won the much soughtafter
Worldwide Best Brandy trophy, the last
five years were in succession - and after tasting
them we could understand why.
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El Broide and Leeroy Wright
Purists and enthusiastic novices had the
opportunity to experience tutored tasting
and master classes under the auspices
of Kobus Gelderblom, a master distiller
and international wine and spirits judge.
Gelderblom's tasting talk - 'Share the Spirit:
Journey from Grape to Best Brandy in the
World' - covered the creation of base wine,
to distillation, maturation, then to blending
and finally a tasting of six award-winning
brandies. The art of barrel-making was also
demonstrated, with live performances by
veteran cooper Neville Ebraham.
Discovering brandy's new modern mojo
was a real delight and came in the form of
the Brandy Cocktail of the Year, the Amalekkerlicious,
created by Kurt Schlechter, with
its fusion of cranberries, peach and orange
and funky sherbet kiss mark on the rim.
Brandy's extraordinary versatility and fun side
could be found in the many other inventive,
taste-shaping cocktails that all went down
very well with the visitors. Said renowned chef
Francois Ferreira, Brandy Guild member and
head of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in South
Africa “In this era of the craft cocktail and
retro-classics, brandy is being rediscovered
by mixologists for its unique flavours and
easy mixability. It's a spirit with body that will
support strong flavours without getting lost.
As it combines so well with fruits and juices,
brandy is the backbone of many classic and
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Rare cognac treasures were to be found at the Cognac de Collection
Jean Grosperrin. Since 1999 Jean Grosperrin and his son Guilhem
have been sourcing precious barrels of single-vintage, unblended
cognacs, some up to 50 years old.
Throwing some technology into the mix was the launch of a new
Brandy App, which gives consumers a mobile way to interact with
their favourite brandy brand, get detailed information about brandy
happenings, the brandy routes, or to track tasting notes for each
brandy. In addition, it indicates accolades received and includes a
unique 'Share the Spirit' rating system, for users to share their ratings
of brandy with their friends. The app also brings the latest brandy
cocktails to the palm of the hand.
In addition to the brandies on offer, there was also a range of highend
lifestyle brands on display including Aston Martin, Montblanc and
Nespresso, brandy-loving foods, famous brandy houses and artisanal
estate brandies. For the first time aerial artist Samantha Kotze brought
her seamless, breathtaking performance, inspired by the best of SA
Brandy, to the event.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Brandy is the soul of the wine it is distilled from.
• It takes 5 litres of wine to produce a litre of brandy.
• South African brandy has some of the most stringent
production regulations in the world.
• South African brandy is matured for at least three years
in small French oak casks.
• Brandy is South Africa’s largest selling and favourite
• More than 80% of brandy drinkers are aged below 50.
• The highest number of consumers are aged between 39 to 49,
followed closely by those aged between 25 to 34,
and then 18 to 24.
• Women account for a growing portion of SA's brandy
consumption - up from around 20% in the mid '90s to almost
30% at present.
DISCOVERING THE BRANDY ROUTE
South African brandy history has always had its small and big
players, on and off the stage. Some survived into the modern era,
others have been revitalized, some colourfully reinvented and many
enthusiastically re-established - providing the backbone to what is
today known as the two SA Brandy Routes.
WESTERN CAPE BRANDY ROUTE
Within an hour's drive of the Mother City some of the world's best
brandies wait to be discovered.
BACKSBERG ESTATE CELLARS
Backsberg is home to Sydney Back Estate Brandies, which are made by
using wine pressed exclusively from Chenin Blanc grapes, and distilled
in a state-of-the-art still imported from the Cognac region in France. The
range consists of a 5/6-year-old blend and a limited amount of 10-yearold
as well as a 15-year-old exclusive reserve brandy.
The only Franschhoek member, Haute Cabrière is known for its
Pierre Jourdan Cap Classiques, yet they are the reason why the Fine
de Jourdan is so fine. This traditional potstill brandy is characterised
by its vanilla bouquet and is totally natural and unadulterated.
De Compagnie makes a limited edition double
distilled potstill brandy. This meticulously refined
potstill brandy has been double distilled in an
antique copper alembic potstill first used by
Ben Lategan in 1849 on the historic farm, De
Compagnie, Wellington, South Africa. It is a
single cultivar brandy made from exclusively
designated grapes harvested from well seasoned
1976 Chenin Blanc vines grown on the farm in
the Wellington Wine Region of South Africa.
Kaapzicht Estate is situated in the Stellenbosch
region, against the Bottelary Hills, and produces
full-bodied, fruity wines, brandy and grappa with
great structure and length.
This famous estate, situated in the shadow of
the majestic Paarl Rock, launched its first brandy
- Laborie Estate Alambic Brandy - at the end of
1997. Set among rolling vineyards, Laborie's
historic buildings have made it a popular tourist
destination for local and international visitors
alike. The Laborie Estate Alambic Brandy
achieved Veritas Gold 2010 and Veritas Gold
2011. It received a Gold Medal at the 2011
Concours Mondial and was judged as the Best
Brandy in the World at the 2010 International
Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).
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Banele, KB and Bevin
Until 1993 Louiesenhof was part of the
Koopmanskloof Estate, where brandy
was distilled since 1920. The first batch of
brandy produced on Louiesenhof was done
in conjunction with the research station in
Stellenbosch and Ugni Blanc and Columbar
grapes were used for this brandy.
The longstanding harmony of tradition,
quality and innovation that has established
Nederburg as the home of South Africa's
most awarded and widely enjoyed wines,
offers a Natural Potstilled Solera Brandy
- the natural progression of 200 years of
OUDE MOLEN DISTILLERY
Situated in the heart of the fast emerging
and prestigious Elgin Wine Region, René
Santhagen's Oude Molen Distillery is a fine
tribute to the man, commonly known as the
'Father of South African Brandy' and home to
the Oude Molen Brandy range.
OUDE WELLINGTON ESTATE
In a timeless process, the Chenin Blanc,
Clairette Blanche and Chardonnay grapes
magically turn into brandy. The double and
triple distilled spirit of the grape concentrates
its flavours in the traditional copper Cape
potstill. Crafted with care and free from
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additives, it's a true reflection of the fertile terroir and all its purity. This
international award winning brandy proudly bears the name of the one
who made it - Dr. Schumacher.
Savingnac is handcrafted in small batches at Jorgensen's Distillery
in Wellington. Each brandy is matured for 12 or more years in small
French casks to create the ultimate expression of all that the noble
grape can become.
The modern Tokara winery is located at the top of the Helshoogte
Pass (R310), 5 km from Stellenbosch on the southern slopes of the
Simonsberg. Tokara's 5-Year-Old Potstill Brandy has been produced
according to a traditional method in a Prulho alembic still, and
matured in French oak vats. The annual production is very limited and
each bottle is presented in an exquisite gift box.
Uitkyk Brandy Cellar, situated on the R44 towards Paarl from
Stellenbosch, produces one of South Africa's finest 10-year-old
estate potstill brandies. Situated on the slopes of the Simonsberg
Mountain, this estate certainly has one of the most beautiful settings
in the Cape and is well worth a visit.
Upland Estate is a certified organic farm near Wellington. Distilled
from organic Chenin Blanc and Riesling grapes, the 100% potstill
brandy is matured for 10 years in small French oak barrels. This
Cognac-style brandy has an unmistakable character; wafts of dried
peaches and apricots, citrus and pineapple and topped with vanilla.
Guinevere 10-Year-Old Pure Brandy is the proud flagship of Upland
see page 140
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VAN RYN'S BRANDY DISTILLERY
Just 35 minutes drive from Cape Town, visitors can learn about
the origins of Van Ryn's dating back to 1845. See the burnished
copper potstills and watch skilled craftsmen at work at the one
distillery in the country with an on-site cooperage. Find out how
they potstill our brandies, mature and blend them. Sample the
international award winners with hand-crafted chocolate and
R62 BRANDY ROUTE
When you head into the heartland of Cape brandy making, take
a slow, leisurely journey and discover fine brandies as unique as
their legendary makers.
The Barrydale region has a long history of brandy making and
Barrydale Cellar has built on this to become one of South Africa's
top potstill brandy producers, competing with - and beating -
international brands at international level.
Boplaas’ distilling heritage dates back to 1880 when current
owner, Carel Nel’s great-great grandfather, exported his first
consignment of fine Boplaas Brandy to England. Boplaas was also
the first cellar to release an Estate Brandy and is well known for its
award winning potstilled brandies.
Just outside Oudtshoorn, on the road from Calitzdorp, lies the
vineyards of Sandkoppies, home of Grundheim Wines. Grundheim
launched its maiden potstill brandy in 2002 and the family's recipes
have ensured that their homemade liqueurs and witblits preserves
have walked away with numerous awards.
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A FIRST ASCENT
DRY LITE JACKET
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Visit the InDULGE Category page for more fascinating stories.
KANGO WINE CELLAR
Kango is the oldest co-operative in Oudtshoorn and
has become a major producer of wine and brandy
in the Little Karoo region. It's passion for brandy
is underscored by the numerous accolades it has
won, especially its famous Hanepoot Brandy and
Kango Premium VO. New additions to its range
include Buchu and Ginger Brandy.
The Klipdrift Distillery in Robertson promises a
generous dose of South African hospitality to all
who come to visit. The informative tastings and
tours through this world-class distillery also includes
entertaining glimpses into the history of everyone’s
Situated on the picturesque road between
Oudtshoorn and De Rust, Mons Ruber has a long
tradition of distillation. When world prices of ostrich
feathers plummeted in 1913, farmers survived by
distilling and selling witblits; an event that sparked
the Little Karoo's unique distillation culture. In more
recent years, Mons Ruber has been making estate
brandy - distilling it over an open fire in a still that
dates back to 1936.•
Information sourced from