Musgrave Spirits launches Musgrave Copper flavour-infused Vanilla and Black Honey Brandy, the ‘Bourbon’ of Brandy!



Last week I attended a small intimate Media Event at Musgrave Spirits in Salt River, with only ten guests, to introduce its Musgrave Copper flavour-infused Pot Still Brandy. Musgrave Spirits is well-known for its Gin, and its Pink Gin in particular. We were introduced to the Brandy on ice, with mixers, as Savoury drinks, and ended off the evening with delicious Don Pedros.

We were welcomed with a Fruity Mooty cocktail crafted by Sip Exclusive Mixologist Owen O’Reilly, made with Musgrave Copper Vanilla, lime juice, Cointreau, Fruit Loops infused air, and coconut water, and creatively a cone of Fruit Loops was attached to our cocktail glass, after our Covid regulation procedures, a wow of an introduction to what we were to experience and taste in the two hours.

Musgrave owner Simone Musgrave welcomed us to their Office/Warehouse, and shared that her company does not make any of the Spirits, the Gins being custom-made by Hope on Hopkins Distillery, and the Potstill Brandy comes from Van Ryn’s in Stellenbosch. Simone introduced Owen, describing him as having a ‘palate of a king’, having won a number of bar tender competitions.

Musgrave had observed the lack of innovation in the Brandy category, with poor marketing too, resulting in declining Brandy sales. She saw an opportunity to create a Brandy brand, using Cape Brandy made from grapes grown in the Cape. She grew up in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Black Honey, one of the two infusions in her Copper Pot Still brandies, comes from Zambia . Musgrave also wanted to ‘feminise’ Brandy, to get away from the rugged ‘Klippies & Coke’ male-drinking Brandy image and stereotype.

The brandy age is not mentioned on the packaging, but she shared that the Musgrave Copper Vanilla is made with 3-year old Brandy, while the Black-Honey is made with 5-year old brandy (90%) and 20-year old brandy (10%). The Brandy is available in 200 ml (costs R199) and 50 ml (‘handbag brandy’) sizes. The 2021 Platter’s Wine Guide has awarded Musgrave Copper Vanilla 4 stars and Black Honey 4 1/2 stars.  It is the cognac drinker that Musgrave wants to attract to her Brandy products. The Musgrave brandies have a 38% Alcohol content, compared to the Gins at 43%.

Musgrave Copper Vanilla Pot Still Brandy is double distilled in Copper Pot Stills, and matured for three years in oak barrels, the oak adding only a limited taste to the Brandy. It is infused with Madagascan Vanilla, to create a brandy with creamy vanilla and tangerine on the nose, carrying through to the palate. It lends itself to mixing in cocktails, yet it can be drunk on the rocks, with sparking water, or even with a shot of Vermouth.

The Musgrave Copper Black Honey Pot Still Brandy is double distilled and matured in oak barrels. The 20 year old portion of the Blend is revatted in older barrels after three years. This Brandy has sweet prune, honey, liquorice, light molasses, and savoury flavour notes, giving it an African character. It can be drunk on ice, with ginger ale, and a shot of Pale Dry Sherry can even be added to it.

Dish Food & Social prepared the canapés with which the Musgrave Copper Brandy products were paired. We started with the Vanilla Brandy, tasting it on ice, adding a slice of orange, and then some Schweppes soda water. The food pairings were potato fondant topped with roasted  truffled mushrooms and chive Crème Fraiche, as well as lightly smoked tuna and peppery pear salsa.  We then tasted the Musgrave Copper Black Honey Brandy, on ice, and then with Pura ginger and lemon added, paired with beef carpaccio rolled and filled with biltong pâté and wild rocket, as well as air-dried bresaola wrapped around green asparagus spears, wild rocket, and truffled mustard mascarpone.

Owen spoke about cocktail trends, telling us that Brown Spirits, including whisky and cognac, are on an upward trend. Clients seek easy drinking drinks. Foodie techniques are being used in cocktails, including infusions, carbonating, and using coconut water. Savoury cocktails are trending. Less plastic and straws are being used.  Lower alcohol, healthier drinks are sought. Seasonality of ingredients affects cocktail menus.

Savoury cocktails were something I’d never heard of, so Owen prepared small tasters of Black Honey Brandy, kale, black cherries, and smoked and salted apricot, a Smoothie with a kick, decorating the glass with kale. He called this cocktail ‘Slaaitjie’. The second Savoury cocktail was made with Vermouth, grapefruit-infused soda water, Copper Vanilla, and coconut water, placing a torched marshmallow on top of the glass, an impressuve presentation.

Musgrave identified the long forgotten Don Pedro as a new take on an old classic, first introduced in the Spur in Durbanville many moons ago, the ideal summer drink. We were told that the presentation of a Don Pedro must look like ‘a couture dress’.  We tasted three tasters made with vanilla milkshake, using Country Fresh ice cream :

#.  Mango Chai Don Pedro, made with Copper Vanilla, coconut cream, Chai tea, ground cinnamon, frozen mango, and vanilla ice cream.

#   Hazelnut Praline Don Pedro, made with Copper Vanilla, salt crystals, chocolate chips, and hazelnut praline paste or syrup

#   Burnt Honey and Orange Don Pedro, made with Copper Black Honey, an orange, cream, ice cream, and a pinch of salt, my favorite of the three.

The Don Pedros were the cherry on top, ending off a fun and very educational event.


Musgrave Copper Pot Still Brandy, Musgrave Spirits, 4 Swift Street, Salt River, Cape Town.   Instagram: @musgravespirits


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein

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