We caught up with Van Ryn’s Brandy Master Wallies Uys who visited Kenya to launch Viceroy 10, the first Viceroy vintage brandy collection at Van Ryn. Kenya is the first market to have the first collection of the Vintage Viceroy Brandy introduced. Viceroy 10 is double distilled and matured in French oak barrels for 10 years.
Wallies Uys tells us about brandy blending, and lots more!
How did you get into brandy crafting?
After finishing my wine making qualification I went oversees to get some international exposure, I started off at a Whiskey distillery in Scotland and fell in love with the traditions and art of distillation. Afterwards , I took up the opportunity to work at Distell in 1996 and was privilege to work and learn from the best Brandy Masters in South Africa.
Why do you have the title ‘brandy master’? What does your job entail?
Would say a brandy master is someone who has the passion and skill in the art of distillation, maturation and brandy blending.
What set’s Van Ryn Brandy/ South African brandy apart?
The high standards and regulations set out by the brandy industry in South Africa plays a big role to ensure our products are from the highest standard. We use only the best quality white grape cultivars (Colombar / Chenin Blanc) to produce a quality base wine for brandy, the wine is then doubled distilled through copper pot stills and then matured (by law for minimum of three years) in hand-picked French oak barrels.
In your opinion what gives brandy the unique element as a spirit of choice in comparison to Cognac?
First, cognac gets the name because it is produced in the Cognac area in France. South African brandy is from the highest standard due to the strict local regulations set by law in the brandy crafting industry. The main difference between Brandy and Cognac is the grape cultivars that is used as the base for the distillation process. As mentioned above the Colombar and Chenin Blanc grapes that we use to make the brandy have a high natural fruit-acid content, essential in brandy making, and also impart vibrant fruit and floral flavors to the brandy. Different maturation techniques also plays a big role in terms of the final product, ensures smoothness, complexity and add to the amber gold color and an array of flavors to the final product.
Tell us a little bit more about the Vintage Viceroy 10? I understand that you have advised it should be on any brandy enthusiast bucket list
The Viceroy 10 vintage brandy bears testimony to the Van Ryn cellar’s century-and a half old tradition of maturing fine brandies to perfection. It is part of an internationally recognized luxury brand. This product captures sublime excellence through authentic time honored hand crafted distillation and maturation techniques. It is a superior 10 year old matured product, and a premium offering to be enjoyed by all.
What is the difference between the Viceroy 10 and the normal Viceroy that we are used to?
Both of the brandies are from a high standard at the distillery. What makes the Viceroy 10 brandy stand out is the fact that it’s been matured for 10 years in hand-picked French oak barrels and blended to perfection to give you a brandy with an amber gold color, velvety smooth finish and complex aromas. So smooth we will suggest you drink it neat, with ice or a splash of water.
When it’s said a brandy has been distilled and matured in age oak barrels what does it mean?
Distillation means that the brandy was double distilled in small copper pot stills. A fine brandy owes as much to the wood in which it is matured as to the grapes from which it is made. In South Africa all pot still brandies must, by law, be aged in French oak barrels, the process we call maturation.
In your career has there been a time when it was impossible to produce or get the perfect blend of brandy?
Your first blend will never be the final or perfect one; it takes time to craft and blend a premium brandy. But as all Master blenders will tell you, by the time it is ready to be bottled it will be the perfect blend, a crafted product to be enjoyed for those intended.
Which is the best way to enjoy a vintage brandy? How about for a beginner?
The Viceroy 10 Vintage brandy will be best enjoyed neat, with ice, or for the beginner a splash of water.
What type/shape of glass is used for tasting experience of brandy? Is it different from the glass used to serve brandy and why?
I will suggest a balloon type of glass to enjoy a premium brandy such as Viceroy 10. The design of such a glass enhances the experience because it collects the flavor that is on top of the drink that has settled so you enjoy the complexity of the rich aroma even before you taste the drink.
Van Ryn Distillery has a couple of vintage collections in the portfolio some have even received international recognition. Which is your favorite yet?
It is a very difficult question to answer, because there are many different age brandies to choose from, all from the highest quality, but in terms of a Vintage brandy Viceroy 10 is up there with the best.