20 August 2012 by Denise Slabbert

An Amarula state of mind

Amarula is a creamy, fruity drink that is as South African as Mrs Ball’s Chutney, and was recently voted 1 of the country’s favourite spirit brands.

Elephants are rather fond of the tart marula fruit

For the uninitiated, Amarula is a creamy liqueur made from the fruit of the marula tree found in abundance in Limpopo province. One of the myths that has done the rounds for years is that elephants feast on the soft flesh of the marula fruit and become ‘intoxicated’ (however, there doesn’t seem to be much real evidence to substantiate the rumour).

Amarula – a South African favourite

Drunken pachyderms aside, the fruit of the marula tree is high in vitamin C and potassium and all sorts of other good things, while the tree itself is the stuff legends are made of.

Drunken pachyderms aside, the fruit of the marula tree is high in vitamin C and potassium and all sorts of other good things, while the tree itself is the stuff legends are made of.

It is known as 'The Marriage Tree' in Zulu culture, as it is believed that those who marry beneath its branches will enjoy vigour and fertility all their days.

The trees are a popular place for traditional tribal gatherings and lekgotlas (meetings), and many important decisions have been made in the shade of this mighty African tree.

The bark of the marula tree is said to have healing properties, and the kernels produce an oil that is a good anti-oxidant and is used in creams and lotions.

We can drink it too. Many a South African will be quick to tell you about the deliciously unique taste of Amarula – served on its own, over crushed ice or even dribbled over vanilla ice cream.

It's no surprise, then, that Amarula was recently voted South Africa’s 2nd most favourite spirit brand in The Sunday Times Top Brands for 2012.

Elephants grazing under marula trees

Amarula, marketed as 'The Spirit of Africa', is also very popular overseas. It remains strong in European markets and was awarded gold at the 2012 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London (Amarula is a regular gold medallist on this platform, which draws quality producers from around the world). Further afield, South America has been seduced by the pleasures of Amarula (the Brazilians love it), while closer to home, Angola, Kenya and Nigeria have given it the thumbs-up.

Travellers (both local and international) who want to learn more can visit the Amarula Lapa just outside of Phalaborwa, where they can find out about the origins of Amarula and buy a few extra bottles of the stuff for friends back home.

The Amarula Lapa in Limpopo province

 

Category: Food & Wine

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