The History of South African Brandy October 30, 2023
Blue distillate - and how to correct it June 06, 2023
What you will need to make your own Mampoer or Fruit Brandy
First published on Distillique's website 2015 GM Bosman
The French call it Eau de Vie, the Germans call it Schnapps, The Irish call it Poteen and in South Africa we call it Mampoer. For this article we will call all of them "Unaged Fruit Brandies".
These are all the same thing: fermented fruit, that becomes fruit wine and is distilled to "unaged fruit brandy" and when aged in, or with French Oak wood, they become fruit brandies. When we use grapes, then we just call it "brandy" after it has aged or "witblits" if it has not been aged yet.
Note that Witblits is merely a sub-category of Mampoer, i.e. Mampoer made from Grapes, and Mampoer is merely the South African Geographical Name for Unaged Fruit Brandies.
To make any fruit brandy, the principle stays the same:
1. Take fruit and ferment it into fruit wine (if the fruit is grapes, then we just call it "wine")
2. Then distil the fruit wine to get an "unaged fruit brandy"
3. Dilute it with water to get "unaged fruit brandy” at the correct %ABV, or;
4. Age this in French oak barrels (or add French oak chips into the unaged fruit brandy - even in bottles) and it becomes a fruit brandy after some time.
To make both Schnapps and Brandy requires the same process to be followed for fermentation and distillation. Brandy just needs to get that "woody" character after aging with the French Oak whereas schnapps is just the “brandy” in unaged form.
The following equipment is what you would require for small scale fruit brandy manufacturing (please note that we differentiate between a home distiller and a micro-distiller):
Equipment for Fermentation
1. A fermentation vessel, either stainless steel or food-grade plastic, with lid that can seal air tight. Home distillers can use 20lt buckets or 5lt plastic bottles.
2. A fermentation lock, either a one-way valve or a "bubbler" depending on the size of your fermentation vessel, that can be fitted to the top of the container.
3. A SG Hydrometer (to measure sugar content and monitor fermentation progression).
4. pH Test Strips (to make sure the pH stays between 3.5 and 4.5 during fermentation)
Equipment for Distillation
1. An Alembic copper potstill (or other size if you would like to go bigger or smaller) with matching condenser (all our pot stills comes with condensers)
A Fractionating Reflux Column Still
Note the following:
a. make sure your still size and fermentation vessel size matches
b. Alembic pot stills – specifically for fruit brandies
c. Either the still needs to be made out of Copper, or in the case of a Fractionating Reflux Column Still, contain Copper Plates and Copper Mesh, to remove Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S - rotten egg) aromas that form during fermentation
2. Thermometer (80 to 120 degree C) mounted on the still
3. Alcohol meter (0-100%) and 100ml measuring cylinder to use with the alcohol meter
4. A gas burner (preferably), an electric heating plate, or you may build the pot into a brick structure to use wood as energy source (not recommended as it is difficult to control evenly and the mash might get burned very easily - also not recommended for Fractionating Reflux Column Stills)
Per 25lt fermentation you shouold be able to produce the following per single distillation batch run:
1. 3-5 bottles (750ml) of fruit brandy at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV), based on fruit wine fermented to 12% ABV or;
2. 15-20 bottles (750ml) of liqueur at 24% ABV (with sugar added) based on a fruit wine fermented to 18% ABV or,
3. 1-2 bottles (750ml) of fruit brandy at 50% ABV for fruit (other than grapes) without the addition of sugar to the mash.
Note at point 3 "without the addition of sugar to the mash". For commercially produced products we are not allowed to artificially increase our yield by adding sugar to increase the amount of alcohol formed during fermentation.
This rule does NOT however apply to Home Distillers making product for own use or gifting purposes.
Equipment for Aging
For aging “unaged fruit brandies” into proper “fruit brandies”:
1. A French Oak Barrel specifically made for BRANDY aging. (The smaller the barrel the quicker the aging and the less you have to distill to fill it)
2. or French Oak chips
Then there are a number of “consumables” that you may also want to consider:
1. Pot distiller’s yeast - then none of the following are required:
2. Distiller’s yeast(to do the fermentation)
3. Yeast nutrients(used during fermentation)
4. DAP (to provide Nitrogen during fermentation)
5. Potassium Carbonate and Citric Acid (to adjust pH to 4.5)
Knowledge of the Process
Naturally, some knowledge on how to ferment, distill, do cuts and blending, etc. is required. This is perhaps the most important part of all. A good distiller will create excellent spirits even with really poor equipment whereas a poor distiller will only create bad spirits with even the most expensive equipment. For this reason our Distillique Training courses are always very popular. You can view them on www.distillique.co.za
If you now take the unaged fruit brandy and sweeten it with sugar, you'll get an "American style" Schnapps. Invert sugar is recommended to avoid crystallization.
When you Infuse herbs, spices and adding other ingredients and sugar into your "unaged brandy" and dilute it further with water, you will be making a liqueur.
Adding dairy products (such as "ideal milk" with sugar) will turn it into a delicious "cream liqueur". Just remember to also use an alcohol suspender or other emulsifying agent to avoid separation.
We can even add some spices (or fruit skins or even fruit slices) into the steam path to make a more aromatic, fruity spirit. This technique is called "ginning".
Regardless of what you want to do, just keep on Distilling !!!
(NOTE: All products and consumables mentioned above are available from Distillique's Retail and Online Store)