LIFESTYLE NEWS - The brandy industry, part of the South African wine and industry, is unique and often lesser-known. Which is a pity – since it’s one of the world’s best.
First distilled in Africa in 1672, brandy and potstill brandy (basically cognac) has become a global force to be reckoned with.
But for some reason a lot of people still don’t know a lot about the local brandy and potstill brandy industry and distillation.
Here’s some points of interest…
- A lot of brandy is distilled at KWV. It makes sense, as the KWV cellar (owned by Distell) is the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
- When ageing in barrels, 3.5 percent of brandy is lost due to evaporation while in cask. This is due to a warmer climate than Europe, where brandy was first distilled. The loss is called “The Angels’ Share”.
- Ever wondered what is the difference between pairing wine and brandy? When pairing wine you first have the wine then food – to see how it complements each other. With brandy you will enjoy the food item (including desserts like chocolate) first – then enjoy the brandy to see how it changes the flavour.
- According to master distiller Pieter de Bod the South African heat is really good for creating superb brandy. “The temperature in SA means our brandy matures quicker. Our 20-year brandy is equivalent to a 35-year-old one in Europe.”
- The difference between brandy and potstill brandy is mostly how long it is matured. Normal brandy can be mixed with sodas like coke, and is rarely drunk neat. Potstill brandy is matured longer (over 10 years) and cost a little more. They are equivalent to cognac in flavour – and can be enjoyed neat. The gamble with making brandy is that the recipe for making young brandies (those made for blends) can’t change too much. After three years they test to see if a cask can mature further. Casks are tested again at five years, and if the potential is there it will be matured for 10, 12 or 20 years. Otherwise it is used for blends in regular brandy at three years.
- Brandy is the only liquor made from another alcohol. Brandy is made from wine before it is distilled into brandy. Whisky, gin and vodka are made from grains or other items before distillation.
- Unlike wine and whisky, which you swirl to release its nose when tasting, you don’t swirl brandy before sniffing it. When you swirl brandy it releases ethanol – creating an overly alcoholic smell. When sniffing the golden liquid all you do is you bring your nose to the brandy balloon.