Mampoer, a white spirit distilled from fermented fruit, is the South African equivalent of moonshine. In the Western Cape it’s commonly known as Witblitz (white lightning), while in the northern provinces it’s called Mampoer. Named for an African chief, and first distilled on the back of an ox-wagon, is it any wonder that thirsty travellers on mampoer tours end up telling tall tales?

Did you know?

Legend says the word 'mampoer' is derived from Mampuru, the name of a Bapedi chief.

Mampoer tours are a fun way of experiencing local culture and the age-old tradition of home-brewed liquor.

Nineteenth-century Cape colonists routinely distilled brandy from the bi-products of their wine industry. When Afrikaner pioneers left the Cape and trekked north they lost their access to grapes but not their desire for a strong drink at the end of a long day.

The pioneers experimented with a variety of regionally available fruits and wild berries, and a powerful alcoholic drink (it seldom has an alcohol content of less than 50%) called 'mampoer' was born. In addition to mampoer’s recreational benefits, its ‘medicinal’ qualities were prized.

Novelist Herman Charles Bosman has forever linked mampoer with the tiny hamlet of Groot Marico in the North West Province, but you’ll find mampoer distilleries to tour from Pretoria to Prieska.

The Marico tourism office runs a tour, which includes up to three farm visits, and mampoer tasting sessions, after which you may never be quite sober again.

In the Magaliesberg, the Monate Sitruskelder (citrus cellar) makes 23 mampoers. Their flagship mampoer is called Adoons (a colloquial term for a baboon), and you can taste fruit liqueurs, brandy and alcoholic fruit beverages. May we suggest a designated driver, or a night in one of the area's guesthouses?

When next you’re in Plettenberg Bay, Nyati Distillery JJJ, based at the Buffalo Hills Private Game Reserve, offers distillery tours and a mampoer called Jack’s Jungle Juice, with a potency-rating (60%) equivalent to a charging nyati (buffalo).

Wherever fruit is grown in South Africa, you’re bound to find a local mampoer distillery to tour. Klerksdorp museum make a karee-berry mampoer; Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum near Cullinan hosts mampoer-making demonstrations and annual Mampoer Festival. Prince Albert in the Swartland, Oudtshoorn, and Philippolis are all-renowned for their mampoer.

Mampoer tours aren’t only about alcohol. The real fun is deciphering the cryptic and crazy local names given to the brews, and participating in off-the-wall activities like bokdrol spoeg - a competition which involves spitting mampoer-soaked kudu droppings as far as you can.

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