When I think of an Alchemist, I think of the Disney animation Mickey Mouse in Dukas’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, madly working, surrounded by boiling and bubbling glass equipment! Trying to make gold no doubt. However, at New Harbour Distillery, their alchemist, works with purpose to produce a truly fine product.
South African Brandies are made according to very strict rules and regulations. The most important of which is that the spirit must mature in small casks for a minimum of three years. Other brandy producing countries don’t have these rules. One reason why South African Brandy and South African Distillers feature so well in International competitions.
In South Africa, the Chenin Blanc and Colombard grapes which are traditionally used are picked early in the ideal ripeness stages. The wine is made as quickly as possible, without the addition of preserving sulphur, as this would react with the copper of the stills. Once distilled in a Copper Pot Still, the brandy is matured in a combination of previous fill sherry casks and charred French oak barrels for the required three years. Much is given up to what is known as “The Angel’s Share” during the time with the barrels required topping up occasionally. On blending and bottling, the brandy is not filtered.
From a squat bespoke bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is in black and gold, very elegant. In the glass, the brandy is a rich amber in colour. The aromas are of soft dried apricots, grated orange rind, and spice and vanilla from the oak. The palate is rich and generous with dried dark raisins, and an undertow of walnuts. The long and gently waning aftertaste is satiny with touches of oak smoke.
One does not really expect to have a food pairing with a beverage like this. However, I have found that a couple of smooth cheeses fit the bill. Dalewood Fromage Boland is perfect. Also good for making an Old-Fashioned Cocktail. Not sure about its origins, but it was in the 19th century. Works really well with the Cape Alchemist Brandy and the sweet orange bitters.
Read more about New Harbour Distillery and its offerings – CLICK HERE