Dr. N is a fifty-something wine writer who develops a passion for SA brandy and decides to try to make a difference to plummeting sales. So he rents a stand at Food|Wine|Design – the leading SA lifestyle show – on the roof of the Hyde Park Shopping Center. Develops a concept – Karoo Kerels, six different brandies from six different dorps along the R62 in the Klein Karoo – to demonstrate that terroir is not limited to wine. Buys 100 Kg of ostrich breast and 100 brandy-infused Christmas cakes from Oude Molen.
Converts the fowl embonpoint into biltong and droewors when the City of Johannesburg demands public health paperwork and so sabotages his well laid plans for Ostrich carpaccio and “ox tail” made from ostrich neck to pair with the brandies. Commissions a logo by gifted artist Chris Denovan. Has it engraved on 100 brandy snifters by Crystal Direct and has two Karoo Kerels posters printed by The Poster Works. Commissions six ostrich eggs carved with brandy logos from a Malawian artist. Buys 300 bottles of brandy from six producers.
Flies to Jo’burg for a week on his Diners Club card. Works like a slave at FWD for four days and speaks more Afrikaans than he has done since he was knee high to a khakibos in Boksburg. Calls in favours aplenty, tests the limits of friendship and ends up selling 500 bottles of brandy to people who would not normally buy the stuff. Pays for all his own tasting stock and provides hundreds of free tastings over the four days. Cost to SA brandy: 0.
Dr. T (right) is a sixty-something wine writer who tastes brandy sighted for a leading wine guide, although the ratings of two more experienced tasters dominate the published scores this year as he is “very busy.” Proposes a comparative tasting of SA Brandy vs. Cognac in London for a feature he reckons he can pimp to The World of Boring Wine magazine (SA circulation, +/-10). Flies to Blighty with industry support.
Brandy producers should decide for themselves which strategy will make a difference to their sales, or is SA brandy headed the way of the Dodo?