Van Ryn Distillery - this is where the magic happens

Van Ryn Distillery – this is where the magic happens

Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush here: if you say “brandy” to most South Africans, the word association to complete the phrase would undoubtedly be “Coke”. Now, in the spirit of Incogvino, we do not judge. If you enjoy your tot of firewater with fizzy, sugary drinks and ice added then so be it. To each their own. The only thing that irks me about that image is the fact that it seems to overshadow the fact that South Africa produces the best brandies in the world. Brandies that regularly wipe the floor with Cognacs and Armagnacs. Trophy, gold medal and overall award-winning brandies. And not always the type that you mix with fizzy drinks. Here is a little peek at some of our best brandies, as well as a giveaway of two fine specimens of these prize-winning beauties.

Debate and dissension around the merit of wine awards and competitions aside (that is a topic for an entirely different series of posts), there are some local and international wine and spirits awards that are widely accepted as indicators of excellence, including the Veritas awards (often called the “Oscars” of the local wine industry), the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) and the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. South African brandies are regularly well-represented at these competitions, with Van Ryn and KWV often cleaning up. ***Update: Tim James kindly pointed out that SA brandies often don’t compete internationally against Cognac directly, as the latter has its own category. Our brandies are still world-class, many made in a style reminiscent of Cognac and do compete commercially – both locally and globally – for the preference of consumers.***

Oude Meester Demant

Oude Meester Demant

Take, for example, the performance of the Van Ryn 15 Year old Cask Reserve over the past few years: gold medal at IWSC for the past 5 years, Best Brandy Trophy at the International Spirits Challenge in 2010, Double Gold at this year’s Veritas awards. Impressive, isn’t it? And these impressive results are not limited to the Van Ryn or KWV 15 or 20 -year old brandies. Elsenburg (the Agricultural Training Institute) release their first potstill brandy (13yo) which walked away with a Double Gold at this year’s Veritas awards. Other consistently performing offerings include Collison’s White Gold Pot still Brandy, Richelieu 10 Years Vintage Brandy and – bringing us to our giveaway – Oude Meester Demant Pot still Brandy (Double Gold at Veritas 2014) and Klipdrift Gold brandy (Gold ad Veritas 2014).

Launched in 2008, the Oude Meester Demant pot still brandy has also been racking up awards and medals. Double distilled in Savalle stills, blended from brandies up to 8 years old, this brandy has a freshness underlying the maturity. Oak, cinnamon and dried fruit on the nose, perhaps even a hint of chocolate. Soft spice and apricot on the palate and a smooth, easy-drinking finish. Best enjoyed as is, in a proper glass but mixes well (and not just with Coke – try Ginger Ale and lemon).

Klipdrift Gold is one of my favourites. Another blended pot still brandy, the oldest component is 21 years old. Lovely pale gold liquid, slightest floral note amongst the myriad of dried fruit (peach, apricot, pear) and citrus. Cigarbox and chocolate notes add seriousness and complexity. Definitely to be enjoyed straight up, but if you do want to mix it, use it for something more sophisticated; a stylish cocktail for instance.

Now that we’ve established the excellence of SA brandy, it’s giveaway time! We have TWO gift packs to give away, each containing 1 x Oude Meester Demant and 1 x Klipdrift Gold. To enter, all you need to do is comment and tweet:

  • Leave a comment below and tell us what you think about SA brandy. Do you prefer it with your fizzy softdrink? Do you think Cognac is better?  Are we all on the wrong track here? Or do you think we make the best brandies in the world? We’re looking for opinions, no right or wrong answers here! Or just let us know which is your favourite brandy.
  • Tweet us @WeAreIncogvino, share the link to this post and use the hashtag #BestBrandy. You can make up your own tweet, or use the one below
    WIN a gift pack with two of SA’s with . Enter here  

Winners will be selected, announced and notified on Friday 17 October at 17:00.

Please note: winners must be in Cape Town or surrounds (or have an address in Cape Town where their prize can be delivered to).

{competition has been closed and the winners chosen. Congratulations to @CandidKar and @ClydeCupido!}


18 comments on “Brandy: Gold, Demant and a [Giveaway]

  1. Devin Lester

    I’ve been wanting to try good SA brandy for a long time (the kind you wouldn’t dare mix with a fizzy drink). Here’s my chance! Oude Meester, Van Ryns, Tokara, Oude Molen, Laborie and of course Klipdrift all come to mind!

  2. Johann Pollard

    I really like Tokara brandy just like it is. Smooth taste. The cheaper plonk needs some coke to go down well.

  3. Werner Els

    I think South African Brandies are world class, and SA Brandy producers should not be shy to admit it.
    I’ve tasted Cognacs as well as Armagnacs and I still prefer our good old South African Brandewyn, with a block of ice or with a splash of water.
    After experiencing the Fine Brandy By Design Tasting at Bergkelder, I even went out to explore other brandy producers and found some hidden gems in the Langeberg / Klein Karoo area, like the boutique sized Kingna Distillery just outside Montagu.

    South African Brandy is simply the best.

  4. Kate Davies

    Can’t say I have much experience with brandies abroad, but I absolutely have to have a bottle of Oude Molen 100 reserve, Klipdrift Premium or KWV 10 year old (or older if I can get it) somewhere in the house at all times. These aren’t the top of the range (would love to try something even better), but damn they’re still great straight. Wouldn’t even think of mixing.

  5. Brett Ross

    I never used to drink Brandy, but have really developed a taste for it. I enjoy it straight up if the quality allows and with coke at a braai.

  6. Nicola Grebe

    I adore KWV 10 year brandy always goes down well with a braai. Would love to try this oude meester brandy.

  7. Malcolm Venter

    I love a good aged brandy straight up but slightly chilled. SA brandy is excellent!

  8. Kim Drake

    we are making some great brandies, and the fact that we have a lot of old bush vines and people who want to craft a premium product is a great bonus. One I reay enjoy is the Tokara pot stilled brandy, very smooth with lovely flavours.

  9. Keith Douglas

    Nothing better than slowly enjoying a fantastic brandy in a snifter after dinner.

  10. Candice Douglas

    It’s a real treat that both my husband and I enjoy: sitting with a good quality brandy, slowly warming it with the heat of your hand, and passing the glass under your nose to capture and ponder the delicate notes without singing your nose hairs. (I recently learned not to stick my nose right in as if I were sniffing wine.) Neither of us are brandewyn en coke mense. 😉

  11. Emily McGregor

    I’ve tried some great SA brandies. Quite like brandy cocktail. Van Ryns does a nice little one with apricot juice 🙂

  12. Clyde Cupido

    My Favorite Brandy as we speak is Oude Meerste 12 year reserve. its absolutely smooth to the pallet and all you need is two ice cube’s and a dash of water, swirl and sip and simply enjoy . Ive never had the Demant nor the VSOP, but i am sure this would be an absolute treat to the senses.

  13. Nicole

    Cognac all the way! With Jorgensen’s Distillery’s Savingnac Potstill Brandy top of my list!

  14. Roy Godfrey

    I have to admit I prefer my brandy mixed with ice-cold Coke. Although there have been a good few cocktails that have surprised.

  15. Gillian Hattingh

    My husband normally drink his with coke, so it would be nice to give him something he can enjoy on the rocks.

  16. Claire

    Would need to go for the old fashioned South African way…. Brandy and coke!

  17. Jonathan

    I think that South African brandies certainly hold their own when compared to the rest of the world.
    There are some that you NEED to mix with a fizzy drink and then there are those which if you dared mix it with anything would cause the world to stop spinning!!

    As an aside – Van Ryn’s has got to be one of the favourites that I have tried locally!
    (and PS, it fits into the “stop the world from spinning category”!)

  18. Xivoni

    Love good brandy – have never had cognac, though.
    Oude Meester has always been my go-to…
    Which one? The best one I could afford at any give point in time!

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