discover

South African brandy

A HISTORY OF BRANDY

in South Africa

The word brandy (brandywine) is derived from the Dutch word “brandewijn”, meaning burnt or distilled wine. The Dutch used distillation as a method of preserving wine aboard their ships. Indeed, a tot of brandy was offered to the first man on board to sight land, leading to calls of “Land Ahoy” many days before the vessels actually docked.

The first brandy in South Africa was distilled aboard the Dutch ship de Pijl, anchored in Table Bay harbour in 1672. The assistant cook succeeded in transforming two leaguers (1164 litres) of Cape wine into “three ankers” (126 litres) of delicious brandy.

Today, South African brandy is acknowledged to be the world’s finest. Comprehensive legislation and a proud tradition ensure that our brandy is of the highest quality. The title of Worldwide Best Brandy at the International Wine and Spirits competition has been awarded to a South African brandy 15 times in the past 20 years.

DISTILLING

process

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MAKING WINE
Making wine is the first step in making brandy. The wine that is used to make brandy is called base wine. In South Africa, mainly Chenin Blanc and Colombar grape varietals are used for base wine. Grapes for base wine primarily come from warmer wine-growing regions. The base wine must be of the highest quality and there are important differences between base wine and table wine.
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DISTILLATION

The next step is distillation. Base wine is distilled in copper potstills, and is transformed into what is called low wine. Low wine has an alcohol content of about 30% v/v.

The low wine is then distilled a second time, concentrating it even further. In the second distillation, the first vapours that emerge from the potstill are known as the heads.

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This portion is discarded because it contains highly volatile compounds that impart undesirable aromas. 

The second portion is called the heart. This is the soul of brandy and is what will eventually be bottled and enjoyed. The alcohol content of the heart is up to 70% v/v.

The final vapours from the still are the tails – once again this portion is discarded.

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MATURATION

South African legislation states that Potstill / Cape Brandy must be matured for a minimum of 3 years in an oak barrel no larger than 340 litres in size. The law does not specify the type of oak to be used. French and American oak is most popular, and each type imparts its own signature flavours into the spirit. Oak grown in South Africa is not suitable, as our trees grow too fast, resulting in wood that is too porous. 

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Alcohol is highly volatile, meaning it evaporates easily. In the barrel, some of the alcohol will evaporate and move through the porous wood, resulting in a lower alcohol concentration in the barrel. In South Africa, this loss can be up to 3% per year. This is known as the “Angel’s Share” – the price paid for the angels working their magic in transforming the spirit.

After three years, the matured heart can be legally called Potstill / Cape Brandy. The brandy master will now decide whether the spirit has potential for further maturation, or if it should be bottled as three-year-old Potstill / Cape Brandy.

CLASSES OF

sa brandy

POTSTILL VINTAGE BLENDED
CONTENTS
100% potstill brandy
30-80% potstill brandy
20-70% matured wine spirit
Minimum 30% potstill brandy and
unmatured wine spirit
MIN. MATURATION
Min. 3 years
Min. 8 years
Postill brandy
min. 3 years
MIN. ABV
38%
38%
43%
BEST ENJOYED
Neat, with ice
or mineral water
Neat, with ice
or mineral water
Mix with ginger ale,
fruit juice or cola

TASTING

experience

QUICK

facts

Aroma Wheel

THE BRANDY

aroma wheel

HALL OF

fame

1981

KWV 10 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
1990

KWV 20 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
1991

KWV 10 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
1995

SYDNEY BACK

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
1999

OUDE MOLEN VOV

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2000

IMOYA VSOP

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2001

OUDE MOLEN VOV

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2004

VAN RYN'S 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2005

VAN RYN'S 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2007

KWV 15 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2008

VAN RYN'S 20 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2009

JOSEPH BARRY 10 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2010

LABORIE ALAMBIC

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2011

VAN RYN'S 20 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2012

VAN RYN'S 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2014

KWV 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2014

VAN RYN'S 15 YEAR OLD

International Spirits Challenge Brandy trophy winners
2015

VAN RYN'S 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2015

KWV 20 YEAR OLD

International Spirits Challenge Brandy trophy winners
2016

VAN RYN'S 12 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2016

KWV 15 YEAR OLD

International Spirits Challenge Brandy trophy winners
2017

KWV 15 YEAR OLD

International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Brandy trophy winners
2017

OUDE MEESTER 18 YEAR OLD

International Spirits Challenge Brandy trophy winners
2019

KWV 20 Year Old

International Spirits Challenge Brandy Trophy Winners
2022

KWV 15 Year Old

International Spirits Challenge Brandy Trophy Winners
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