As director of the South African Brandy Foundation, Christelle Reade-Jahn embraces her job with a love and knowledge that can turn anyone into a brandy lover. Since she was first brought into the foundation, Christelle’s passion has helped her to claim her place as a leader in the South African spirits industry. We sat down with her to chat about the South African brandy scene.
How did you become involved with The SA Brandy Foundation?
I was originally brought in from a strategic marketing perspective, but it wasn’t a difficult move to make because I already had such a love for South African brandies. I was brought up in a house that appreciated brandy, and there were always a few bottles of KWV on the shelf. When I officially joined SA Brandy, I also got to go on a crash course that allowed me to taste a whole range of South African brandies, many of which I immediately fell in love with.
What is your view of the current state of the spirits industry in South Africa?
It’s a very exciting time in the spirits industry because there’s been a lot of interest in terms of the creation of new and interesting craft spirits. This has brought about a whole resurgence in the craft of the product, and there are a lot of smaller distilleries bringing in amazing new ideas. For example, Upland has introduced a 24 Karat Directors Reserve that actually contains gold flakes – it’s delicious, and looks incredible in your glass. These kind of innovations are assisting us in revitalising the industry and teaching people about the amazing brandies that South Africa offers.
Which brandy should we all be drinking at home?
The great thing about brandy is that there are no rules – just enjoy what works for you. I have different favourites for different occasions: the Ladismith 8-year-old brandy is fantastic with sushi or oysters, while for a heavier main course like fillet I’d go for a more robust brandy like the Van Ryn’s 12-year-old. And people don’t realise that brandy is incredible with dessert – pair dark chocolate with a KWV 15-year-old and you’ll love how it breaks through the chocolate’s richness.
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Words: Lucy Sarah Heaney | Images: Supplied