Did you know?
The Amarula Trust, a not-for-profit company, supports the Amarula Elephant Research Project and promotes community upliftment.
Amarula Cream is a South African success story. Sweet, creamy, and vibrantly fruity on the palate, with notes of caramel, peppery spice, and a hint of citrus, it has an irresistible taste all its own.
The fruit that provides Amarula liqueur with its unique flavour comes from the marula tree (Scelerocarya birrea). Tall and leafy, marula trees grow wild across sub-Saharan Africa.
Only the female marula tree bears fruit. By mid-February, the yellow-skinned, white-fleshed fruits are ripe for plucking. Many wild animals, but especially elephants, are crazy about the succulent, nutritious fruit. They’ve been known to ram the tree to dislodge their favorite snack if none has fallen to the ground.
A single tree can yield between 500kg and two tons of fruit. Between the pachyderms and the rural communities in and around the town of Phalaborwa in Limpopo province who earn a living by harvesting the fruit, there’s plenty to go around at harvest time, from late January to March.
Like wine grapes, marula fruit is hand-harvested. The fruit is crushed from the kernel, and the flesh separated from the skins before being fermented in the same way that pressed grapes are fermented to make wine. The 'wine' is double distilled and matured in small oak casks for 2 years before being blended with fresh cream.
It’s not only the flavour but also the folklore surrounding Amarula that adds to the marula fruit liqueur’s appeal. Though the belief that elephants purposely seek out the fermented marula fruits, and become 'drunk' from them is pure myth, the marula tree is the stuff of legend.
Its oil-rich kernel is called the 'food of kings', its fruit is sky-high in Vitamin C, and locals believe its tree bark can aid expectant mothers in determining the sex of their unborn child.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)15 781 7766
Tours to do
Visit the Amarula Lapa outside Phalaborwa for a free Amarula tasting, and from January to March, when it’s harvest time, take a 30-minute factory tour to see how the marula fruit is processed.
What will it cost
A 750ml bottle of Amarula retails for around R80.
What to eat
Besides liqueurs, Amarula also retails a range of liqueur-filled chocolates.
In addition to their Amarula Elephant Research Project (AERP) project, Amarula also supports the Nhlangasi Day Care Centre, an early learning centre for 90 children from the rural communities from Phalaborwa in Limpopo province. An out of harvest season skills transfer project involving the secondary processing of the oil-rich marula nuts for health and beauty products, ensures that marula harvesters are employed year round, and a job-creation project employs a further 85 Eastern Cape women, who thread, knot and brush out the golden braided tassles that adorn the neck of every Amarula bottle.