Amarula Cream Spirit recently hosted the winners of its “Amarula Safari” competition in Hoedspriut, South Africa who emerged through a careful selection process of consumers of the premium spirit.
Susan for Bellanaija and Sly of Classic FM 97.3 had an opportunity to travel with the winners – Stanley Ogbeide, Frederick Oboh and Bukola, to South Africa where Amarula is produced.
Arrival at the Amarula Lapa (The Home of Amarula – Spirit of Africa) in Phalarbowa was nothing but sheer pleasure as the winners and media representatives were treated to true South African hospitality. They enjoyed welcome drinks from Amarula and breakfast with a carefully selected blend of Amarula cocktails, a special private screening of the production process and a tour of the processing factory, Marula Pulping Facility, with detailed information of the process from the starting point to the final product.
Amarula is one of the continent’s most revered premium cream spirits that goes through a careful and hygienic production process (similar to wine processing) to produce the finest quality in premium beverages across the world. The production process is not an easy one as highlighted step by step which they were fortunate enough to learn about:
- The mystical Marula or Elephant Tree is indigenous to Sub-Equitorial Africa. It is referred to as the Elephant Tree because of the significant role elephants play in the process. Elephants eat the ripe and juicy Marula fruit and help in scattering the seeds which germinate and blossom into more bountiful Marula trees.
- The second stage involved the local inhabitants harvesting the Marula fruit from the veld and delivering it to the Marula Pulping Facility or to central pick up points.
- The fruit is selected on a sorting conveyor belt, with damaged fruit being discarded and green fruit being held back to ripen.
- The fruit goes through a washing process before reaching the de-stoning tank where fruit pulp and kernels are separated.
- The Marula pulp is pumped into cooling tanks, where it is cooled down to a temperature of below 6 degrees centigrade to prevent uncontrolled fermentation.
- The pulp is then transported in bulk by insulated tankers to the cellar in Stellenbosch, maintaining the temperature below 10 degrees.
- At the cellar, the pulp is transferred to fermentation tanks, where a pure yeast culture is inoculated into the pulp to start the fermentation process, similar to the conditions of wine making.
- During fermentation, the natural fruit sugar present in the Marula fruit is converted into alcohol, taking seven to ten days. During this stage, the solid fruit particles settle at the bottom of the tanks.
- The Marula wine is then transported to the distillery where the solids are separated from the liquid by two custom built separators. The remaining solids are then distilled in a specialized pot still to release the Marula fruit flavours that are still captured in the skins of the solids. The flavours that are collected through this distillation process are added back to the Marula wine to enhance the full bodied Marula fruit flavor.
- The Marula wine is first distilled through the column still. It is imperative to distill the fresh Marula wine as quickly as possible so as not to lose any fresh, fruity flavours.
- A slow second distillation in copper pot stills, which enables further concentration of these Marula flavours, yields that characteristically flavouful Marula spirit.
- The Marula spirit is the wood matured for two years in small French oak barrels.
- As the final step, the freshest creams are added to create the rich, velvety ‘Amarula’ cream, which has an alcohol volume of 17%. For the ‘Amarula’ Gold, the smooth drinking spirit is left with flavours of vanilla, spice and toasted caramel, just as it is, with an alcohol volume of 30%. It holds the promise to be loved around the world just as much as the ‘African Original’.
The entire package tagged the “Amarula Safari Tour” also included a night at the Hans Merensky Country Club Hotel & Spa, where winners and media personnel were treated to South African hospitality with an opportunity to witness some of the natural wildlife that roam within the grounds. They also enjoyed expert culinary services provided during dinner and breakfast.
The group was further treated to 2 nights at the Kapama Private Game Reserve in the Limpopo province which boasts of an excellent wildlife experience with seasoned game rangers that give valuable information on various animals seen during Game Drives; especially the Big 5 of Africa namely – the African Lion, African Elephant, cape Buffalo, African Leopard & White/Black Rhinoceros.
The ‘Game Drives’ are done in the morning and evenings as they are good periods to catch members of the ‘Big 5’ as well as other animals that include impala, wildebeest, giraffes, warthogs, zebras and waterbacks.
The River Lodge facility is an excellently crafted structure that captures the true essence of nature in its architecture through the use of quality oak wood and African contemporary furnishing to produce an eclectic ambiance that provides warmth and comfort.
The “Amarula Safari Trip” surely provided a soul inspiring, exhilarating and educationally sound experience for all parties, and enhanced Amarula’s recognition as a top quality brand that indeed lives out its slogan – THE SPIRIT OF AFRICA!!!