Brandy Tasting: A tough panel to impress…

The tasting range, light to dark tell the aging secrets

Brandy tasting: International wines meet local premium brandies

What a great institution, home wine tasting clubs. Even better when the crew assembled for the tasting are very open and keen to learn more about premium brandy. It didn’t take much to convince the sceptics (and some hardened Whisky buffs!), there really is something worth exploring about our famous liquid gold…

I was lucky enough on Wednesday night to be invited to a Wine tasting club through a recently met friend of a friend. And boy do these guys know there wine. Big fans and aficionados, and very knowledgeable folks. A fair few premium Whisky fans in the crowd too. Which is the perfect environment for an introduction to our local premium gold brandies…

Brandy Tasting: Start with some exceptional international wine…

The host of this particular event, Rob, had managed to source 4 bottles of very decent international wine. One Spanish, Two French and One Chilean. He also managed to find quite a lot of information about these wines on the interweb, which coupled with the knowledge of the folks sampling the vino resulted in a very educational tasting session…

First up on our round the world wine trip was a 2007 vintage Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain. Sierra Cantabria Crianza. Very light in style, Pino Noir esque, it was on of my favourites on the night. Next up was the first French of the night, Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem (a blend of Carignan – Grenache – Syrah) from M. Chapoutier followed by Les Champauvins from Alain Juame & Fils, a very well structured beauty from Cotes du Rhone. But stealing the show was the rich and intense deep purple-red 2008 Syrah from Marques de Casa Concha in Chile. Simply superb, it was rated top for all tasters present. Some superb wine aside, and onto some legendary brandy…

Brandy Tasting: a spread of SA’s finest potstill brandy…

Rudy gets to grips with the brandies on display

Given the interested and knowledgeable crowd assembled for this particular tasting, and with the senses warmed up from the wine, it wasn’t too difficult to highlight the real beauty of our local brandies. After all they do really speak for themselves. There were a couple of sceptics in the crew though with Braam and Jannie asking up front with big grins where the coke was for the mix! But needless to say preconceptions fell away as we worked our way neat through the specific range on show.

Starting young with a Flight of the Fish Eagle, there was an appreciation for its depth of grassy notes and honey tongue…The next step up was to the Joseph Barry Traditional 5 year old potstill, which also suitably impressed with its strong undertone of raisins and dried fruit. Undoubtedly the star of the show for the night was the Oude Molen Rene Single cask, with its rich complex aromas of chocolate, vanilla and fruity Christmas cake really impressing with its follow through to the palate. 5out of 6 people rated this as the top for the night, a great result for a powerful yet unassuming pot still gem from the idyllic Elgin Valley. Last but in no way least was the Oude Meester Reserve 12 year old, which also won favour with the panel, for its extra aging and maturation that was instantly discernable in its slightly more complex structure.

Brandy tasting: Summing it all up

The great thing about an event like this is that across the broad range of skill and wine knowledge present you still have people picking out individual characteristics for themselves, and rating products differently in terms of what works for them. Which is exactly how it should be. Tasting and enjoying any form of drink or spirit is a subjective, and it really is all about what works for you.

All in all a great night and I can confidently say that there are 5 more brandy fans out there in SA today! I look forward to the next time, where perhaps we can move onto some of the older brandies in our local stables, or have some fun with a bit of a chocolate and brandy pairing…

Thanks to Rob, Jannie, Braam, Rudy and T-bone for a great night (and to Carrie for some cracking food). Also a shout out to SA Brandy Foundation, and Fine Brandy.By Design for their ongoing support!

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