30 July 2010 by Robyn Campbell

Where to taste the world’s best brandy

Brandy connoisseurs wanting more than the angel’s share can visit 5 Cape brandy producers, all of whom in the last decade, have claimed the title the World’s Best Brandy.

Before revealing the 5 top Cape brandy-makers, a little bragging is in order. Since 1999, a South African brandy has been honoured as the best in the world by the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition) 9 times,  and consecutively since 2006.

Without further ado though, here’s where to go to taste some of the finest brandies in the world - made in SA.

1) Laborie Estate, Paarl
Judged the best brandy in the world in 2010, Laborie’s 5-year-old pure pot still estate Alambic wowed IWSC judges with an usual blend of mainly Chardonnay with a touch of Pinotage matured in old red wine oak barrels.

2) Barrydale Cellar, Southern Cape Vineyards, Barrydale
Barrydale Cellar in the Klein Karoo produces Joseph Barry Pot Still Brandy 5-year-old, and a 10-year-old Joseph Barry Cape Pot Still Brandy - winner of the IWSC World’s Best Brandy in 2009.

They also produce a Barry & Nephews Muscat Pot Still Brandy from Muscat d’Alexandrie (also known as locally Hanepoort) that’s been awarded more gold medals than Usain Bolt.

3) Van Rhyn’s, Stellenbosch
Twice honoured as the World’s Best Brandy, in 2004 and 2005, by the IWSC, Van Rhyn’s collection of fine brandies includes a 10-year-old Vintage Reserve, a 12-year-old Distillers Reserve, a 15-year-old Fine Cask Reserve, and a 20-year-old Collectors Reserve.

On a tour of Van Rhyn’s, watch coopers hand-craft brandy barrels or enjoy a brandy, coffee, and chocolate pairing.

4) Oude Molen Distillery, Elgin
Oude Molen produced South Africa’s first Cognac-style brandy in 1910, and set the standard for brandy production in South Africa that remains unchanged until today. A distillery tour at this historic estate gives fascinating insight into the history of brandy making in South Africa.

Judged the World’s Best Brandy in 1999 and 2001 IWSC, the estates’ signature brandy, Oude Molen VOV, has been collecting gold medals since 1924, while the Oude Molen 100 Reserve is so-named because the pot still brandy is laid down for 100 months, or 8 years.

5) Backsberg, South Paarl
Backberg’s 3 vintages include Sydney Back Brandy NV, Sydney Back Brandy 10 Year, and Sydney Back Brandy 15 Year produced exclusively from Chenin Blanc grapes

The first batch of Sydney Back Brandy released in 1995, was named the World’s Best Brandy at the IWSC, and the estate still releases very limited quantities every 5 years.

For information on where to find other award winning South African brandies, visit the SA Brandy Foundation website.

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