This initiative by the SA Brandy Foundation is as good a reason as any to set off on a brandy-inspired journey, provided there’s a designated driver, of course. With the likes of Van Ryn’s, Upland and Tokara all turning out superb brandies, there’s no shortage of top-notch producers in and around Stellenbosch and Paarl – but rather hit Route 62 and head east.
Klipdrift distillery in Robertson
Your first stop should be the Klipdrift distillery in Robertson. While Klipdrift may be a decidedly mainstream tipple, the brandy experience here is superb. You’ll discover the long history of the much-loved name, enjoy a tour through the distillery and end with a tasting of the four unique brandies on offer.
The road through the dramatic Cogmanskloof Pass brings you to Kingna, set on a working apricot; peach and grape farm a short drive from Montagu. Their five-year-old potstill brandy, produced only in small batches, is superb.
On the outskirts of the quirky Klein Karoo town of Barrydale, the Barrydale Cellar crafts a good range of pocket-friendly wines, but is equally famous for the excellent Joseph Barry range of brandies. The 10-year-old potstill brandy is the flagship, but don’t miss out on a taste of the aromatic three-year-old brandy made from Muscat d’Alexandrie grapes, better known as the humble Hanepoot.
Calitzdorp is the capital of Port-style fortified wines in South Africa, but Boplaas has been distilling brandy for more than 120 years and produces a three-, eight- and 20-year-old brandy.
“Our angel’s share is very high with the dry weather we have,” says cellar master Carel Nel. “The angels are very thirsty and every night they have a party in our brandy cellar, but this helps us produce rich brandies.”
For those who don’t know, the “angel’s share” refers to the alcohol that evaporates through the oak barrels while the brandy is being aged for a minimum of three years. The SA Brandy Foundation says that this is a payment to the angels for working magic in the casks.
Mons Ruber Estate
Mons Ruber Estate outside De Rust also boasts a long heritage of distilling, with its burnished potstill dating back to 1936, while Grundheim offers a buchu and ginger-infused brandy at its charming distillery and tasting room on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn.
With a mantelpiece that’s fast gathering awards from around the world, South African brandy is clearly on the up, and the character-filled ‘Brandy Homes’ are the best way to discover the remarkable ‘burnt wine’ of the Cape.
You could win with Van Ryn’s and Your Neighbourhood. Two lucky readers stand a chance to win a Van Ryn’s 12-year-old gift box worth a total of R1,200. Simply visit our Facebook page here to enter.
Words: Richard Holmes