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South African brandies re­cently tri­umphed at the World Drinks Awards in Lon­don, where Oude Meester De­mant claimed the ul­ti­mate ac­co­lade of World’s Best Brandy.

This is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year that a South African brandy has held the high­est hon­our – Klip­drift Pre­mium won World’s Best Brandy last year.

Guests at a glit­ter­ing award cer­e­mony on March 30 at the Wal­dorf Hil­ton also saw gold medals go to Riche­lieu In­ter­na­tional, Klip­drift Pre­mium and Oude Meester Sov­er­eign 18-year-old.

The blind-tast­ing judg­ing panel was com­prised of highly re­spected and ex­pe­ri­enced au­thor­i­ties from the drinks and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, and they ad­ju­di­cated hun­dreds of in­ter­na­tional sub­mis­sions. They scored merit on nose, palate, fin­ish, bal­ance, char­ac­ter and qual­ity.

The Oude Meester De­mant was judged to have “lu­mi­nous am­ber clar­ity, a nose rich in choco­late and nut­meg, with apri­cot and pineap­ple on the palate”.

With an ideal cli­mate and a his­tory of brandy pro­duc­tion stretch­ing back more than 300 years, it should come as no sur­prise that South African brandies are among global lead­ers. Many of the coun­try’s award­win­ning brandies are ac­tu­ally Cog­nacs be­cause they are made in the Cognac style. Un­for­tu­nately, the term is ge­o­graph­i­cally de­lim­ited and refers only to brandy dis­tilled in and shipped from the area sur­round­ing the town of Cognac in France.

Iconic Soweto she­been owner Wandi Ndala be­lieves that education is re­quired to help South Africans be­gin to recog­nise the value of their beau­ti­ful “Ibrandy ebomvu”.

“In the old days, we used to sell cases and cases of brandy, but not any more. When the in­ter­na­tional brands came in, peo­ple switched.

“I keep say­ing to cus­tomers: ‘That Cognac you are or­der­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter than this South African brandy that you say you don’t want. It’s more ex­pen­sive be­cause of the ex­change rate, not its qual­ity,’” says Ndala.

He says cus­tomers are un­wit­tingly re­ject­ing a world-class drink in favour of for­eign-made Cognac.

“When they taste the lo­cal stuff again, they un­der­stand that they do ac­tu­ally like brandy – they just for­got about it.”

He adds that there is of­ten con­fu­sion as many Cognac drinkers be­lieve that Cognac is a kind of whisky. “They don’t know that it is a type of brandy. If our in­dus­try would put more money into brandy education, I am sure it could re-es­tab­lish its place in the mar­ket,” he says. With the re­cent crash in the rand, a rise in im­ported liquor prices is ex­pected. Epi­curean education about the value of home-grown brandy can­not come soon enough.

Do you pre­fer Cognac over lo­cal brandy? If yes, why?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word BRANDY and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

Oude Meester De­mant

Klip­drift Pre­mium Brandy

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