Interestingly enough, South Africa imports an impressive 42 million bottles of Scotch whisky every year, according to an article by Business Insider.
Strict global regulations on Scotch production prevent distillers from cutting corners, ensuring that the quality is of the highest you can find.
According to CEO of Redford Beverages, Gerrit Wagener, these regulations also make it challenging for local innovation and customisation to be a reality. And this is where the whisky aperitif comes in - helping local distillers showcase unique South African flavours.
Wagener said, “Unfortunately camel thorn is not an easy wood to make a barrel from. So, for us to showcase the flavour of this iconic wood in a whisky, we had to work with the government to find a category that enables us to expose pure whisky to actual camel thorn wood, which is why we are so delighted to finally have the whisky aperitif.”
When I received a bottle of the camelthorn-infused Toor whisky aperitif, I was intrigued. A wood-flavoured drink? The idea, as I was told, is that this whisky is meant to turn away from the idea that it is something for men with moustaches sitting in a dark bar. Rather, this can be something for everyone to enjoy (especially if you don’t like the heavier side of alcohol).
So I decided to crack it open with my partner (who, historically, has not enjoyed whisky very much). Spoiler alert, both of us loved it.
I had it the way I like it - on the rocks, because I am too impatient to wait for a chilled glass. At first, it hits you the same way a normal whisky would. It was pleasant, aromatic, and has a deep flavour.
The star of the show, without a doubt, was the camelthorn. Often when drinks claim to be infused with something, as the average alcohol enjoyer, I haven’t been convinced that any extra flavour has been added to them. However, I could taste the camelthorn - it was this lovely swirl of flavour just after the original sip, and the aftertaste lingered long enough that I could sip it slowly.
It was the perfect delight for a Sunday afternoon.
I would say this is definitely worth a try, even if whisky isn’t usually your go-to. In fact, especially is whisky isn’t your go-to.