Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tasting Distell’s Platter Five Star brandies

What a great invitation and they promised that a special canapé menu had been created to pair with the four award winning potstill brandies, while Van Ryn’s Master Distiller, Marlene Bester, would be on hand to guide us through the tasting
The tasting was held at The Bar Keeper Liquor Store at the top of Strand Street, so of course we took the bus, no driving after sampling five brandies. This was always a liquor store and has been recently refurbished when The Bar Keeper took over the premises. In fact, it was originally the place where Johan Van Ryn sold his brandy in the 19th Century, so the wheel has turned full circle. His name is still above the door.
These are the four potstill brandies we were there to taste. Van Ryn's, 12, 15 and 20 year old and the Oude Meester Souverein 18 year. All won 5 stars in this year’s John Platter Guide
The table laid out with the four tasting glasses with the canapés in the centre which would be paired with the brandy
We began with something our parents used to drink in the 1950s, Brandy and Ginger Ale. Rather too sweet for us, it was enjoyed by others
Brandy Ambassador and Account Director at Corporate Image, Dayne Stern got us started on the tasting
Then it was the turn of Marlene Bester, Master Distiller at Van Ryn. She told us that the first brandy produced in South Africa was made from local grapes in 1672, but on a ship in the harbour. Van Ryn’s distillery was built in Stellenbosch in 1905. They win many international awards each year, but they do not compete in these competitions with Cognac. South African brandy is different from French, as we have the sun and good weather. They also do not concentrate on wood maturation. The brandy must speak from the glass. There are strict regulations for making brandy. Brandy must be made from grapes in South Africa, in other parts of the world it is made with other things like fruit, maize and corn, even potatoes! All our brandies are matured for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. Good brandy needs a long time to mature well
Some beef rolls
We began with the Van Ryn 12 year old, retailing at R699 to R800. Coffee, cocoa and herbs on the nose, with some apricots and vanilla on the palate, and a coffee toffee aftertaste. World’s Best Brandy in the IOC and IWC competitions. This was paired with onion and cheese tarts, where the onion overwhelmed, and tarts with mushrooms and rocket, which we found added a musty taste to the brandy. On the right hand side are some beetroot rostis. We find that tasting food with brandy is a very subjective thing

Some spicy chicken topped with Salsa was paired with the Van Ryn 20 year old, which has vanilla, floral notes, Christmas fruit and prunes. Soft as silk on the palate, with some spice, R1500 to R1800
Then to taste the Van Ryn 15 year old, R1100. It has the best nose, full of chocolate, toffee, nuts apricots and ripe peaches. Lovely spicy flavours, warmth too, caramel and nuts. This was paired with sushi, a nori wrapped tuna maki and this glass of seared tuna in a 5 spice soy
Then with this selection of dessert items it was time to taste the Oude Meester 18 year Old. R1300 to R1500. It has a nose of Vanilla ice cream with toffee, how pretty. Hot on the palate, herbal buchu and walnuts, and not as smooth and forthcoming as the Van Ryn’s. The pairing of the Almond butter slice was inspired, the macaron went well
The Richelieu 10 year old was used in the brandy and ginger ale at the start of the tasting. The sticky chocolate cake topped with pomegranate rather overwhelmed some guests
Lots of tweets, Facebook entries and photos from the attending bloggers. Winnie Bowman and Mel Minnaar enjoying the brandy, as did we, very much

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