I once had a magical lunch with a group of wine experts on the Nederburg Estate, and asked one of them what gift he tends to take along when he travels abroad.
He answered immediately: local port or brandy.
Although the Eurocrats no longer let us call our port ‘port’ we do an excellent job with it.
And as for bandy….the cheaper stuff is superb value, as indeed is the more expensive stuff.
It was therefore encouraging to read a recent piece by Reuters, which reported that there is a revival in sales of local brandies, at the expense of imported whisky.
Reuters suggested: “The trend, fuelled by a stagnant economy that is strangling spending, has led to the first increase in brandy sales for more than a decade, and falling sales of pricier whisky.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love a fine Scotch much more than a pint of fine Scotch loves me.
However, with many a premium-aged Scotch hovering at around R1000 a bottle, and some of the finest aged local brandies costing half that much, I am more than happy to glug down a fine local brandy.
Needless to say, there are exceptions to any rule, and if you shop around and watch the specials, you can find an accceptable blended Scotch at around R100 a bottle, and the excellent value Scottish Leader Signature blend at around R200 a bottle.
Mind you, I am not a fashion icon, and marketers should give me a miss. My bling has long blung.
I would suggest the ideal target market for SA brandy producers is the well-off black middle class, which for years has been the important target market for imported whiskies (and Cognac).
Get them hooked on the more up-market local brandies, and you will thrive. It may be that the old school ’klippies and coke’ brigade is dying out (and I am blaming neither of those fine beverages for this) and so the marketing must target the growth market.
Certainly the Reuters stats are encouraging: “Brandy still lags its rival in the contest to be the number one spirit by some distance – about 32 million litres is sunk a year versus nearly 39 million of whisky – but the gap has almost halved since 2014, when the economic slump set in.”
So the message is clear: support your local economy by buying bucket-loads of brandy.
Whether you choose to drink it with coke, to have it neat, or to pour it over a few ice cubes (my preference) do your bit for local brandy.
And when you board that international flight to visit friends or business contacts, stock up on as many bottles of the stuff as you can afford.
You wouldn’t take coals to Newcastle, or lamb to the Karoo. So don’t take Scotch to Scotland.