The Brandy Story
To be classified as a Cape Brandy, a brandy must be:
- Produced from grapes grown in the Cape Wine Regions of South Africa
- 100% Double Pot Still Distilled
- Minimum of 38% alcohol by volume
- Aged in Oak casks of less than 340 litres for a minimum of three years
- Quality certified by an independent body
Rich Brandy History
Brandy has been produced in South Africa since 1672, when according to folklore, a cook onboard a Dutch galley in Table Bay distilled 1000 litres of wine into 150 litres of brandy. Since then, brandy development has been intertwined with the arrival and departure of colonial visitors, and has gone from humble beginnings to being amongst the world’s best.
Making The Wine
Cape Brandy is only produced from specially made wine, and only from grapes grown in the Cape Wine Regions. These wines are fresh and sulphide (preservative) free in order to produce fine brandy suitable for long oak maturation.
Colombard, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc are the varieties of grapes most widely used in Cape Brandy production. Because of the warm South African summers, grapes are more fruity when picked, giving Cape Brandy its unique fruit-laden, complex and inviting character.
The wine is then distilled twice in copper potstills. By heating (distilling) the wine, the water is separated from the flavour compounds in the wine, and only the finest concentrated essence of the wine is captured.
The first distillation creates a low wine of approximately 22% alcohol by volume. The second distillation transforms it into a crystal clear, fruit-laden spirit ready for maturation at a strength of approximately 70%.
Long Oak Aging
Cape Brandy is aged in Oak casks of less than 340 litres for a minimum of three years. The terms VS, VSOP and XO are used to denote age:
- VS – 3 Years and up
- VSOP – 5 Years and up
- XO – 10 Years and up
Cape Brandy with a specific age statement denotes the age of the youngest brandy present in the blend, the others may be much older to add richness and character.
The Blenders Art
The final leg of Cape Brandy’s journey to perfection lies with the Brandy Master. Different brandies from different oak barrels are specially selected for marrying together.
Relying primarily on their sense of smell and taste, and most notably his considerable experience, the brandy master skilfully blends these brandies of different ages together into one harmonious blend.
Enjoying Cape Brandy
A traditional way to appreciate Cape Brandy is neat in a brandy glass. The tulip shape of the glass concentrates the rich delicate aromas perfectly.
Other ways of enjoying Cape Brandy are with a few cubes of ice, or a tall mixer such as Tonic or Soda Water, which still allows the flavour of the brandy to shine through and demonstrates its supreme mixability.