15 Best South African Brandies to Try in 2021!

Brandy Tour in Stellenbosch and Paarl

South Africa has a rich history of brandy production and crafts some of the best brandies in the world! While French cognac may be better known world wide, many South African brandies have won awards for their complex flavour profiles and exciting aromas, produced by some of the most historical wineries and distilleries.

Whether you’re seeking brandies to enjoy on the rocks, with a mixer, or for your favourite cocktail, we’ve collected a list of the best pot still, blended and vintage South African brandies for you to try in 2021!

What’s the difference between brandy and cognac?

What is Brandy?

Brandy is derived from the Dutch term ‘brandewijn’ (burnt wine), a reference to  the brandy production process which involves distillation through the heating or burning of wine.

Brandy is made by fermenting grapes as you would for making wine, but has additional distillation and ageing steps that make it into a spirit. 

In order to be called South African, the brandy must be produced from locally produced wine made from domestic grapes, and must be distilled, matured and bottled in South Africa. The industry usually favours Chenin Blanc and Colombar grape varieties and may use either pot stills or column stills for distillation. SA brandy must be aged for at least 3 years, inside French or American oak barrels and have a final alcohol content of 38-43%.

south african brandy

What is Cognac?

Cognac is most commonly produced using the Ugni Blanc grape varietal  and must be distilled in and shipped from the town Cognac in France. Cognac must be double distilled using a copper pot still and  must contain a minimum of 40 percent alcohol. 

Just as South African brandy production is regulated and must be crafted using specific standards, Cognac production is strictly regulated by the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac), an institute established by the French government. 

difference of brandy

1. POT STILL PRODUCED SOUTH AFRICAN BRANDIES

For brandies to be considered pot still brandies in South Africa, they require 100% of the brandy that hits the bottle to have been distilled in a copper pot still and aged for a minimum of 3 years. This production style is in line with the way in which Cognac is produced which is also 100% pot still distilled. 

Pot still brandies typically contain rich flavourful characteristics with pungent, concentrated aromatic profiles. 

BOPLAAS 8 YEAR BRANDY

Boplaas’ 8 year brandy is produced from 100% Colombar grapes from the Calitzdorp region of the Karoo. The brandy is double distilled in a 100 year old Santagans Copper still, and aged in a mixture of French oak and old Port barrels for 8 years. 

The grapes used to create this delicious brandy are picked when they are highly acidic and undergo malolactic fermentation before distillation for more complexity. The brandy contains fine aromas reminiscent of Colombar wines.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Boplaas 8 year potstill brandy is characterised by its rich, full bodied flavour profile defined by the eight years spent in old Limousin casks and old Port casks, and influenced by the climatic conditions of the Klein Karoo.

This aged potstilled brandy is brimming with ripe stone fruits, honey, herbal and floral notes, with an incredibly smooth feel and finish on the palate.

DISTILLERY

Boplaas is based in the Klein Karoo with a distilling heritage dating back to 1880. It became the first cellar to release an Estate Brandy in 1994. This winery & distillery has received many accolades in relation to creating exceptional wines and spirits, and has been domestically and internationally recognised.

Boplaas also produces a local whiskey as well as a range of fortified wines such as their Cape Ruby Port.

BLAAUWKLIPPEN 10 YEAR BRANDY

Blaauwklippen 10 year old potstill brandy is crafted using a combination of colombard, sauvignon blanc, and chenin blanc grapes, by the Blaauwklippen Vineyards winery based in Stellenbosch.

This brandy, created by Rolf Zeitvogel and Albert Basson, is double distilled in an old copper pot still which was originally used at Oude Molen in Stellenbosch. The brandy is matured for 10 years using 225L French oak barrels.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

A complex combination of vanilla, cloves, and rich fruits which linger on the nose and palate. It’s complex flavour profile makes it great for pairing with chocolate and cheese. It’s best served neat on the rocks, and is not usually used as a mixer.

DISTILLERY

Blaauwklippen vineyards by Rolf Zeitvogel with Albert Basson in Stellenbosch. Blaauwklippen winery is one of the oldest wine farms in Stellenbosch and was founded in 1682.

DIE MAS 5 YEAR BRANDY

Die Mas Kalahari Truffle infused brandy is crafted using selected grapes hailing from the Northern Cape. 

Die Mas Kalahari Truffle is aged for at least 5 years in Oak Barrels, after being double distilled in a copper pot still.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Complex dried apricot and citrus aromas, enhanced by subtle banana, litchi and raspberry flavors. This brandy is complex and balanced with a smooth lingering aftertaste of fruit.

DISTILLERY

Die Mas van Kakmas, producers of export table grapes, raisins, wine, brandy & gin. Situated on the banks of the orange river 80km from Upington. We also stock Die Mas’ 3 year brandy which sports a delicious smooth taste and lingering fruity notes. 

KAAPZICHT 15 YEAR CAPE BRANDY

Kaapzicht’s 15 year potstill cape brandy has a complex flavour profile and distinctive aroma.

The finest classic white grapes grown and harvested on Kaapzicht Wine Estate are chosen to produce this remarkable brandy. The grapes are picked when they are very green to maintain their acidity and provide protection during the distillation process.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Notes of dried fig, prunes, toasted oak, cinnamon and cloves. A mellow taste with a lingering oaky, sherry finish.

DISTILLERY

Kaapzicht Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Created by Dani Steytler. We also stock a dry full-bodied Kaapzicht pinotage and a Kaapzicht merlot with earthy dry flavours, both of which are both purchasing to try this year.

TOKARA POTSTILL 10 YEAR BRANDY

TOKARA’s 10 year old brandy is matured for 10-15 years in  barrels that are handpicked by TOKARA. Around 15% new limousin oak barrels are used with the balance of the barrels ranging in age from 1-30 years old.. The maturation process provides TOKARA’s 10 year brandy with a deep, complex flavour profile.

TOKARA’s 10 year brandy follows on the success of their acclaimed 5 year brandy released in 2004. The 10 year brandy is crafted using a Chenin blanc base wine and double distilled, with the heart fraction being (richest in aromas and flavours) kept aside for ageing for a minimum of 10 years.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

The aromas abound with subtle complex notes of fresh vanilla, dried fig, peach and raisin fruits. The floral potpourri aromas combined with rich jasmine and orange blossom notes add to the complexity of this brandy. The finish is spicy with lingering hints of pepper and saffron.

DISTILLERY

TOKARA Distillery is located at the crest of the Helshoogte pass between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.  Tokara distills spirits, produces wines and brews beers. They’re known for their delicious dry white wines and rich red wines, as well as their acclaimed brandies.

2. BLENDED SOUTH AFRICAN BRANDIES

For brandies to be considered pot still brandies in South Africa, they require 100% of the brandy that hits the bottle to have been distilled in a copper pot still and aged for a minimum of 3 years. This production style is in line with the way in which Cognac is produced which is also 100% pot still distilled. 

Pot still brandies typically contain rich flavourful characteristics with pungent, concentrated aromatic profiles. 

Let’s find out more about some of the best pot still brandies in South Africa right now!

BAYEDE! XO ROYAL CAPE BRANDY

Bayede! XO Royal Cape Brandy is double distilled in copper stills, and matured inside French and American oak barrels. This blended brandy consists of brandies matured for between 10-14 years.

Bayede! XO Royal Cape Brandy was distilled using blanc and colombard base wines.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Delicate fruit notes including peach and apricot, in addition to spicy notes of cloves and curry leaves. A smooth, rich feel on the palate with a lingering aftertaste of vanilla and honey.

DISTILLERY

Bayede! meaning “hail the king”, creates signature wines and spirits, as well as coffee and craft beer. Bayede even creates olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Bayede! Is based on the purpose of providing employment opportunities to not only provide sustainable jobs in local communities but also empowering people through skills transfer and capacity building.

COMMANDO BRANDY

COMMANDO BRANDY

A mellow cask matured brandy using traditional methodology dating back to 1815. This full bodied brandy is said to embody bravery, courage and strength. Commando brandy is created using grapes grown on the Southernmost tip of Africa in the rich fertile soil in the Cape region. The commando blend is based on Francis Collison’s special brandy blend, which was dubbed Commando in 1915 and produced by his Grandson.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Commando Brandy is a light and aromatic brandy, with a smooth mellow flavour. The taste includes light floral and fruit notes reminiscent of dried apricots. The aroma consists of a combination of almonds, prunes, sweet spices and fine toasted oak.

DISTILLERY

Commando is created by Distell, a brand responsible for some of the most popular drinks brands in South Africa.

KLIPDRIFT PREMIUM

KLIPDRIFT PREMIUM

Klipdift premium is crafted using the finest grapes, and the distillation is also meticulous involving vintage copper pot stills to separate the heads and the tails to leave the heart – the purest part of the brandy.

The heart is sealed in handpicked french oak barrels and matured without haste to ensure pungent aromas and complex flavours. The master distiller then afterfull blends various ages to deliver on the Klipdrift Premium’s renowned taste.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Aromas of cedar, tobacco and warm spices with an apple and walnut undertones. A spicy warm flavour profile with fruity notes and a smooth, palatable taste.

DISTILLERY

Klipdrift premium is crafted at the Klipdrift distillery in Robertson, and is owned and marketed by Distell.

KWV 5 YEAR BRANDY

KWV 5 is steeped in the heritage and craft of South African brandy making. Aged for a minimum of five years to deliver its delicate fruity flavors, KWV 5 will take you back to your roots. Enjoy on its own or with a premium mixer.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Ripe apple, pear and raisin flavours which are enhanced by a mild toasted oak aroma. Smooth palatable finish with some orange liqueur notes and woody, spicy notes.

DISTILLERY

KWV prides itself in procuring grapes from the most sought-after viticultural regions in South Africa, and processed at KWV’s cellar facilities in Paarl in the Cape Winelands. The facilities feature a world-famous Cathedral Cellar built in 1930. KWV is renowned for its ability to produce award winning wines, spirits, brandies, gins, and liqueurs.

WELLINGTON VO BRANDY

Wellington VO Brandy is a premium blend of a selection of 3-5 year old Cape Brandies with unmatured neutral wine spirits. It is distilled primarily using Columbar and Chenin Blanc grapes and can be enjoyed on the rocks or in combination with a wide range of mixers.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Wellington VO Brandy has a smooth palatable feel in the mouth, with aromatic fruity aromas as well as hints of golden toffee or caramel flavours.

DISTILLERY

Could be James Sedgwick Distillery or Jorgensen’s Distillery.

3. VINTAGE SOUTH AFRICAN BRANDIES

We’ve collected some esteemed vintage brandies that have been matured to perfection, and created using the finest grapes available within the Western Cape.

South African Brandies are considered vintage when the blend contains at least 30% pot-distilled spirits and at least 60% wine spirits, each of which have been aged for at least 8 years prior to the brandy master crafting their final blend. Vintage South African brandies can also contain a maximum of 10% unmatured wine spirit.

That being said, brandies in this category are often matured within French and American oak barrels for a period of 10-15 years. Vintage brandies are often considered the highest quality brandies, alongside pure pot still brandies, and are characterized by a stronger flavour profile with stronger woody notes due to their maturation in oak.

Some of the brandies we’ve listed below have received multiple domestic and international awards since their release. Let’s find out more about some exceptional vintage South African brandies below!

VAN RYNS FINE CASK RESERVE 15 YEAR BRANDY

A rich burnt gold coloured brandy crafted by a distillery with a longstanding, rich heritage in the heart of the Stellenbosch Valley. Van Ryns’ 15 year old brandy is produced from the finest selection of grapes available in the Cape. The 15 year old vintage brandy is an example of exceptional production and is considered a premium brandy with an enticing taste and aroma.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

This full-bodied brandy has a nose of citrus and honey character, cigar box spices with hints of chocolate on the palate and a creamy, rounded finish. It’s aroma is said to consist of remarkable citrus and honey notes.

DISTILLERY

Van Ryn’s Distillery & Brandy Cellar in the heart of the Stellenbosch Valley on the banks of the Eerste River. The distilleries brandy crafting heritage dates back to 1845 when Jan van Ryn arrived in the Cape, after which the Van Ryn Wine & Spirit Company was established. Maturation is an important cornerstone in the Van Ryn approach to crafting exceptional quality brandy. The distillery is home to an impressive range of vintage copper pot stills, one of which has been around for nearly 200 years. Van Ryns Distillery is also responsible for another acclaimed brandy, their Distillers Reserve 12 year brandy.

SIX DOGS XO BRANDY

Six Dogs XO brandy is crafted using Chenin Blanc and Colombar grapes from the Western Cape region. Six Dogs XO is double distilled in vintage copper pot stills and aged in small French Oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years. This esteemed brandy is considered a collectors item, and would even catch the attention of seasoned Cognac drinkers. Six Dogs Brandy packaging is premium quality and exhibits attention to detail with their impactful design.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

A complex flavour profile with notes of peach, apricot and complemented by hints of coconut. Its lingering aftertaste is reminiscent of honey, passion fruit, dried peach, date and fig flavours. On the palate, Six Dogs XO is smooth and warm, possibly due to the inclusion of a limited quantity of hand-harvested fynbos honey.

DISTILLERY

Six Dogs XO is produced at the Six Dogs distillery inside the De Wet Valley in the Karoo. The distillery boasts stunning views of the mountains and greater Karoo, with neighbouring farms supplying specific fruits and the Karoo valley home to botanicals used to craft their award winning wines, gins, brandies and more.

LADISMITH 8 YEAR CAPE BRANDY

An exceptional Cape Brandy produced using Klein Karoo grapes, double distilled using custom designed hand built copper pot stills and matured for a minimum of 7 years in the finest oak barrels. This cape brandy is a proud culmination of terroir, artisan skill and pure brandy making passion.

Ladismith 8 year old Cape Brandy is made using colombard grapes and are picked just before they ripen in order to craft the highest quality base wine.

Once the double distillation and ageing processes are complete,  the brandy master creates a final blend of the 8 year old cape brandy in very limited quantities (only 1000 bottles per year).

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Ladismith displays dried fruit, apricot and citrus. In the mouth, a symphony of tropical fruit abounds with full flavoured banana and litchi followed by more subtle floral notes and a hint of red berry. The swallow is soft, complex and well balanced, with a lovely lingering dried fruit finish.

DISTILLERY

The Ladismith Distillery is a modern winery and brandy distillery. Most the distillation is done using column stills, which is used to create wines and brandies for export and bulk sales, but once a year a small pot-still is fired to distill just enough of the highest quality base wine, which once matured, becomes the finest Ladismith 8 Year Old Cape Brandy.

KWV 15 YEAR BRANDY

KWV’s 15 year is crafted with patience in mind, matured for no less than 15 years in French Oak barrels, revealing deep characteristics of this exemplary brandy. KWV 15 year’s eye catching deep amber colour is alluring to brandy and cognac connoisseurs.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

A characterful, full bodied flavour profile with elegant notes of dried fruits, including peach, plum, and raisin. A smooth lingering aftertaste with subtle floral aromas and warm vanilla and woody notes.

DISTILLERY

KWV prides itself in procuring grapes from the most sought-after viticultural regions in South Africa, and processed at KWV’s cellar facilities in Paarl in the Cape Winelands. KWV is renowned for its ability to produce award winning wines, spirits, brandies, gins, and liqueurs.

JOSEPH BARRY XO CAPE BRANDY

This well-matured brandy is made in the Klein Karoo town of Barrydale from St Emilion and Colombard grapes. Joseph Barry XO is oak aged and hand distilled, and has been aged in oak barrels for over a decade in the underground cellars in Barrydale.

AROMA & FLAVOURS

Joseph Barry XO Cape Brandy has a flavour profile containing deep fruity flavours, reminiscent of apricots and raisins, and complemented by spicy sweet vanilla notes. This brandy has a silky feel on the palate with a lively texture. Soft and lingering, it is the ultimate expression of the Klein Karoo.

DISTILLERY

Joseph Barry distillery has been handcrafting brandies since 1941. The distillery, as the name suggests, was founded by Joseph Barry who was an entrepreneur during the 1800s who altered the course of trade routes in the Karoo region, and began developing brandy producing methods as early as 1846. The Barrydale Cellars, where the brandy is processed and matured, features antique copper pot stills that are a magnificent piece of history.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SERVE BRANDY?

Brandy can be served on its own or as a mixer within cocktails. This  largely depends on the consumer’s preference but may also be determined by the quality of the brandy being consumed. Premium Brandy is most often served neat, or on the rocks.

Brandy is commonly served in a brandy snifter or brandy glass, also known as a brandy bowl. Other common choices are stemless glasseswhisky glasses and cognac glasses. You might choose to purchase ice ball moulds to serve and enjoy your brandy. Pairing brandy with mixers such as coca cola or lemonade, or as a core ingredient within cocktails like amarettos, brandy alexander’svieux carressidecarsbrandy smasheschampagne cocktails and more.

Experience a brandy tour with us:

Brandy Tour in Stellenbosch and Paarl

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