Van Ryns AU.RA: A 30 year old potstill brandy

Wow. Van Ryns AU.RA has been released – a seriously rare item in South African brandy circles. A blend of 30-40 year old potstils, the oldest reserves in the country, and created a unique hand blown crystal decanter and cutsomised oak box to boot. This looks simply stunning. Getting your hands on one of these isn’t going to be cheap!


Van Ryn's AU.RU 30 year potstill brandy

International connoisseur interest has been ignited by the news that South Africa’s longest-matured potstill brandy has been launched as a luxury and extremely rare collector’s item. Even ahead of its official release, an unnamed Kenyan buyer paid the equivalent of R30 000 for a 750ml crystal decanter. This is believed to be the highest price paid for a brandy from South Africa.

Presented under the Van Ryn’s label and named AU.RA, the 30 year-old-brandy has been hand-crafted from a blend of superior potstills, mostly 30 years’ old but also including components aged for as long as 40 years. According to South African brandy legislation, the age claim on the crystal decanter must reflect the youngest components in the blend.

AU.RA’s name is derived from the chemical term (Au) for gold and the Egyptian sun god Ra. According to brandy master Marlene Bester, this is a once-off edition and cannot be repeated, given the lack of sufficiently matured brandies. “The lack of availability of such venerable brandies is not confined to Van Ryn’s. They just don’t exist in South Africa.”

Only 107 750ml crystal decanters of the special release have been issued to mark the 107 years that brandy has been produced at the exclusive, chateau-like Van Ryn’s Distillery close to Stellenbosch.

Van Ryns AU.RA: Hand blown crystal decanter

Hand blowing the crystal decanter

Each brandy is presented in a unique, hand-blown receptacle that resembles a deluxe perfume bottle or decanter. The crystal decanters have been individually blown by renowned glass artist David Reade, whose work is represented in galleries and collections locally and internationally. Their shape, that appears to be suspending the liquid gold, resembles a drop, recalling the first drop of the heart of the spirit captured in the double-distillation process. The tear silhouette is also is echoed in each hand-made stopper, as well as the hand-made silver pendants that adorn each decanter. These have been made by local jewellery designer Bridget Zietkewicz.

Each crystal decanter is housed in a hand-turned solid oak case, created by architect and specialist furniture designer James Mudge and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The brandy is sold exclusively from Van Ryn’s, where a private phone line has been installed for those interested in acquiring a crystal decanter. The local price is available on application.

Bester says that while AU.RA carries some of the hallmark aromatics and plush texture of the highly awarded Van Ryn’s Collection Reserve range, it is very individual. “Its maturity makes it exceptionally smooth with exquisitely integrated characters. It opens with a fragrance of orange blossom, vanilla, chocolate, dried sweet fig, ginger and roasted hazelnut, and delivers a velvety and layered taste of nuts, coffee and sherry, ending in a creamy, lingering finish.

“It has been a remarkable privilege to work with such superbly aged brandies – a highlight of my career,” Bester said.

Caroline Snyman, who heads Distell’s spirits business division and who is herself a brandy maker, said AU.RA was literally a distillation of the exciting brandy talent in South Africa. “We have been building an international reputation for brandy excellence since the turn of the century, earning the title of world’s best brandy no fewer than 10 times in just 13 years. This inimitable blend is an expression of the brandy skill, erudition and elegance for which our country is becoming increasingly well-known. It is a worthy ambassador for the very finest in brandy and casts an aura of accomplishment for all South African brandies.”

Attention to detail!

The home of Van Ryn’s, now a five-star establishment that is visited by brandy connoisseurs from all over the world, was built in 1905. Van Ryn’s brandies owe their origins to Dutch immigrant Jan van Ryn, who opened his first store selling wines and brandy in 1845. Today, Van Ryn’s is South Africa’s most decorated name in brandy with more international trophies and awards than any other.

JUNE 27, 2012
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