Wine with heart

Wine with heart

Banish the winter brrr with brandy

Nicolette Waterford

By Nicolette Waterford

Long gone are the days when the only way to enjoy brandy was to mix it with Cola.  Brandy is making a comeback as a sexy sipper, and it is also the perfect way to fight the winter chill.  Brandy-making in South Africa dates back 340 years.
We are probably the only country that knows exactly when our first brandy was made – on 19 May 1672, distilled by a ship cook’s assistant on board a ship in Table Bay.
South Africa is blessed with some of the best brandies in the world and legal regulations allow for the following three styles of brandy to be produced here: potstill, vintage and blended.

Potstill Brandy
By far the most complex and layered of all the brandies, the complexity comes from the rich fruity aromas concentrated during the distillation process and more richness is obtained during wood maturation, resulting in a delicate spice, vanilla and woody bouquet.  These are best enjoyed in a brandy balloon glass, neat with a couple of blocks of ice or a dash of fresh spring water.
Examples of Potstill Brandies include: Joseph Barry 10 Year Cape Potstill Brandy, Imoya VSOP Alambic Brandy & Klipdrift Gold, to name a few.

Vintage Brandy
Vintage brandies have to be aged for a minimum of eight years and contain a significant portion of matured wine spirit.

Blended Brandy
Blended brandies are ideal for brandy drinkers who prefer to enjoy brandy with cold mixers, perfect for our usually warm, sunny climate. These brandies have higher alcohol content than Potstill or Vintage brandies and they are also usually lighter in colour. Examples include Richelieu, Klipdrift and Viceroy

Estate of mind
Estate brandies are not strictly speaking a brandy style. It means that the brandies were made entirely from grapes grown, harvested, fermented, distilled, bottled and matured on a particular wine estate. Estate brandies have become very popular since 1994 when legislation allowed brandy-making on estates for the first time. These are all excellent, top-drawer brandies, mostly made in the potstill style. Examples include: Kaapzicht Pot Still Brandy, Louisenhof Marbonne Brandy, Sydney Back 10 Year, Tokara Potstill and De Compagnie 10 Year Vintage Potstill Brandy
One big difference between tasting brandy and wine is that you never swirl a brandy, as this can cause some of the delicate volatile flavours to evaporate. You keep the liquid stable and then sniff.
Within an hour’s drive of Cape Town some of the world’s best brandies are waiting to be discovered.

Brandy APPreciation
The world’s first Brandy App has just been released. It gives brandy lovers 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.
The Brandy App indicates accolades that individual brandies have received and include 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.
Download the brandy app from Available on the iPhone App Store/Google Play.

Hey big spender
Van Ryn’s recently launched South Africa’s first 30 Year Old Brandy. It is the oldest and most expensive brandy ever created in South Africa. Only 107 crystal decanters of the super exclusive AU.RA will ever be made available, making this the ultimate collector’s item. It retails at around R14 000 per bottle – if you can get one!

* For more information on anything brandy related, please visit the SA Brandy Foundation website: