Brandy styles in South Africa

In South Africa, 3 general brandy styles are made:

Brandy styles: Potstill Brandy

A recent legislation change for Potstill brandy now requires 100% of the brandy that hits the bottle must have been distilled in a copper potstill and aged for a minimum of 3 years. This brings the style completely in line with Cognac, which is also 100% potstill distillate.

Potstill brandy is the fullest most rich of all the three styles of brandy, as a result of its concentrated aromas and tastes from the potsill.

Brandy styles: Vintage Brandy

Vintage Brandy must contain at least 30% potstill brandy that has been matured for at least 8 years. It can contain up to 60% wine spirit that has been matured the same length of time as the potstill component. As wine spirit has no flavour of its own, it inherits many characteristics from the oak barrels themselves, much like the potstill component does. A maximum of 10% unmatured wine spirit can be added to this style of brandy if desired.

Vintage brandies tend to have a much stronger wood character due to the lengthy aging of both potstill and wine spirit components in oak before blending. There are not many Vintage brandies commercially available in South Africa, the flagship being Van Ryn’s 10 year old.

Brandy styles: Blended Brandies

Blended Brandy is made from a minimum of 30% Potstill brandy, and a maximum of 70% unmatured wine spirit.

Due to the neutral flavour of the unmatured wine spirit, these tend to be a lot lighter flavoured than potstill or vintage brandy, and these styles of brandy lend themselves perfectly to mixers, fruit juices and cocktails.