One of my biggest highlights was meeting Neville, the cooper, and seeing what exactly goes into the of making a barrel – with the hand. I was extremely impressed with his craftmanship, precision and professionalism and it’s really a part of Van Ryn’s tour that you have to experience!
After the tour, I met up with master distiller at Van Ryn, Marlene Bester, for our food and brandy pairing.
We were started off with a fresh green salad with roasted pecan nuts, dried cranberries, biltong, black pepper feta and chevin, topped with balsamic vinaigrette and paired with Van Ryn’s 12 year old brandy. This was followed by chicken tagine with couscous and veggies, paired with Van Ryn’s 15 year old. I was amazed at the different flavours that was complimented both in the food as well as the brandies through the pairing.
Bester also shared the story of the making of Van Ryn’s Au.Ra, the oldest potstill brandy produced in South Africa with components aged up to 30 years. Truly a special occasion, only 107 bottles were produced to mark the Distillery’s 107 years of operation. They sold for R16,000 each!Our meal was perfectly rounded off with Van Ryn’s delectable, moist chocolate cake paired with Van Ryn’s 20 year old. Even though cake and brandy seemed like the strangest combination, these two really go well together. I personally however still prefer my sweet stuff on its own, with no interference…
At Van Ryn’s you actually feel like you are walking into a different era, with some modern touches here and there. It’s incredible to see how much of the past two centuries have been preserved here and also, obviously, to experience the making of some of South Africa’s best brandies.
Van Ryn’s Distillery is located in the heart of the Vlottenburg Valley in Stellenbosch. For more, go to www.vanryns.co.za.
ABOUT ILSE VAN DEN BERG
Ilse is the editor for Marketing & Media Africa (@Biz_Africa) at Bizcommunity.com and a contributing writer for the Bizcommunity Lifestyle section. She is a lover of words, travel and all things digital. firstname.lastname@example.org; @ilse_vdberg