Brandy boo!

Click below to listen to Anna Trapido in conversation with Phemelo Motene while reading the notes...

At the recent 2017 World Drinks Awards in London Oude Meester Demant claimed the ultimate award of World’s Best Brandy. This is the second consecutive year that a South African brandy has held the highest honour - Klipdrift Premium won World’s Best Brandy in 2016. In addition to this best in the world award gold medals also went to Richelieu International, Klipdrift Premium and Oude Meester 18 Years Old Sovereign.

It is no surprise that it won – it looks, smells and tastes superb. The blind tasting judging panel comprised of highly respected and experienced authorities from the drinks and hospitality industry adjudicated hundreds of international submissions, scoring merit on nose, palate, finish, balance, character and quality.

The Oude Meester Demant was judged to have “luminous amber clarity, a nose rich in chocolate and nutmeg with apricot and pineapple on the palette.”

It is no surprise that SA makes such fantastic brandy – we have an ideal climate and a history of brandy production stretching back over 300 hundred (for all kinds of South Africans – Especially in the Cape). Brandy has been part of Cape culture since it was first produced on the Dutch ship Pijl, anchored in Table Bay harbour in 1672. By the early 18th century it was a well-established colonial bartering currency with Khoi people. The Khoi were trading brandy into the Xhosa-speaking communities of the interior by the early 18th century.

It is so entrenched in our culture that many of us use the word brandy as a generic term for all distilled alcoholic drinks. • Xhosa-speaking people often refer to Ibrandy emhlophe (which is actually not brandy but rather white spirits such as gin or occasionally vodka) • Ibrandy ebomvu (real ‘red’ brandy).

Our brandy has an intriguing double life. It exists as a secular, posh drink in the international arena but it also has spiritual and symbolic significance at home. Nowhere more so than in the rural Eastern Cape where the ceremonial engagement with ancestors almost invariably begins with an offering of brandy. A small amount of brandy is poured onto the earth in a process referred to in isiXhosa as ’ukunqula’ (which literally translates as ‘to pray to the ancestors’). It is about opening a channel of communication.

Such communion facilitates a range of rites of passage. • From birth rituals (such as ‘imbeleko’ at which a new born baby is introduced to its ancestors) • ‘Ukhululo’ (whereby a year after the death of her husband, a widow is entitled to take off her black mourning clothes) • Remembrance ‘umgidi’ ceremonies, brandy facilitates access to the venerated hereafter. • When Izibazana (the mothers of initiates) and their sisters (i.e. aunts of the initiates) dance carrying brandy against their breasts to welcome sons home as men, they affirm the changing status of all involved and acknowledge the efforts required to reach such a point.

If you are wishing to engage in any of these rituals it is good to know that ancestors prefer Commando – 10 horses. And they like those bottles that have the raffia lattice (brandy intambo).

When those representing prospective bride groom bring brandy to future fathers in law they are participating in a layered lobola-related display of ceremonial courtesy. Each bottle has a different name and a different role in the process: • The first bottle (‘Imvulamlomo’) allows the dialogue to begin. • The second is described as ‘Uswazilwenkomo’ and refers to the whip traditionally used to steer cattle into an enclosure - suggesting that progress towards a marital engagement settlement is underway. • How many subsequent stages are required differs by region and family with some negotiations requiring up to seven bottles.

While such practices are most common in rural Eastern Cape communities many are also found in urban areas all around South Africa. • I have a friend who’s child was wetting the bed and he was in grade 1 so she spoke to her mother in law who said it’s because you didn’t perform imbeleko. They bought the brandy and they did the ritual and he stopped wetting the bed. • I know another person who poured a little brandy onto each of the tyres of her new car to keep it safe. • I have seen people putting a bit of brandy on the threshold of a new house.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
Fitness was a career that chose me - meet 'Queen Fitnass'

Fitness was a career that chose me - meet 'Queen Fitnass'

Mapule Ndhlovu opens up about her life journey and how exercise changed not only her body, but her mindset for the better.

Letting go of your child who's headed for university and independence

Letting go of your child who's headed for university and independence

Nikki Bush has valuable tips on preparing not only your school-leaver but yourself for the journey into adulthood ahead.

[LISTEN] It's all happening for award-winning actor Thapelo Mokoena

[LISTEN] It's all happening for award-winning actor Thapelo Mokoena

Mokoena's bagged a leading role in UK TV series 'Bulletproof' and is also pursuing his interests in restaurant, wine making and beer brewing ventures.

'Midlife crisis' - blessing or curse?

'Midlife crisis' - blessing or curse?

Clinical psychologist Khosi Jiyane gives her insights into what could be a call to attention leading to valuable re-evaluation.

Financial damage control: Three critical 'don'ts' to start the new year

Financial damage control: Three critical 'don'ts' to start the new year

Certified financial planner Paul Roelofse gives his top tips for financial recovery after festive season overspending.

Don't underestimate the health benefits of using an electric bicycle

Don't underestimate the health benefits of using an electric bicycle

David "Mr Active" Katz discusses the rising international popularity of battery-powered bikes as a primary form of transport.

Popular articles
Fitness was a career that chose me - meet 'Queen Fitnass'

Fitness was a career that chose me - meet 'Queen Fitnass'

Mapule Ndhlovu opens up about her life journey and how exercise changed not only her body, but her mindset for the better.

EFF issues one-line apology to journos after court order

EFF issues one-line apology to journos after court order

Anton Harber and Thandeka Gqubule won their defamation case over Mbuyiseni Ndlozi's party statement implying links to Stratcom.

Ugandan climate activist accuses media of racism after Davos photo crop

Ugandan climate activist accuses media of racism after Davos photo crop

WEF youth climate delegate Vanessa Nakate was cropped out of a group pic with her white peers, also featuring Greta Thunberg.

Letting go of your child who's headed for university and independence

Letting go of your child who's headed for university and independence

Nikki Bush has valuable tips on preparing not only your school-leaver but yourself for the journey into adulthood ahead.

Right to Sight pleads for more donations to conduct cataract surgeries

Right to Sight pleads for more donations to conduct cataract surgeries

Right to Sight trustee Dr Matt Young says they get donations at the most time but now need big sponsors.

Remains of Cato Manor 9 returned on anniversary of their hanging

Remains of Cato Manor 9 returned on anniversary of their hanging

The Cato Manor 9 were hanged in 1961 by the apartheid after taking part in an uprising on 24 January 1960.

Zakes Bantwini opens up about his latest single 'Amanga'

Zakes Bantwini opens up about his latest single 'Amanga'

The musician says he never writes songs about his personal life but this latest single is too personal for him.

Unisa extends registration deadline in the wake of union protests

Unisa extends registration deadline in the wake of union protests

Unisa acting director of communications Lusani Netshitomboni says they encourage students to register online.

Jacques Nienaber confirmed as new Springboks head coach

Jacques Nienaber confirmed as new Springboks head coach

Mzwandile Stick has been reappointed as an assistant coach while in an innovative inclusion, Felix Jones will continue but in a new role as a European-based coaching consultant.

Statistics show decline in mining fatalities

Statistics show decline in mining fatalities

Department of Minerals and Energy chief inspector of mine David Msiza says more needs to be done.