Here at the Helden Distillery we pride ourselves in our innovative and African Style Whiskies.
"But what is African Style Whisky?" you ask.
African Style Whisky is a novel approach to whisky, pioneered by our distillery. The aim of this style is to showcase what Africa has to offer in terms of whisky. Hereby we create a class of whiskies that are distinguished from the typical styles, not just geographically, but also in flavour.
In our African Style Whisky we subscribe to three simple, but non-negotiable rules:
1. At least 51% indigenous African grains in the grain bill
2. Maturation or finishing of the spirit on indigenous African woods
3. Distilled and matured on African soil
The use of African indigenous African Grains such as sorghum and millet have long been explored in the production of gluten-free beers. By aiming to explore these and other African malted grains, such as grain Teff and African rice, a whole new dimension is opened up to the whisky lover.
By utilising our innovative production techniques, African wood flavours can now be introduced in the maturation process. These add a new dimension of complexity into the typical maturation of whisky by imparting toasted wood flavours usually associated with African "braai" fires. There are many wood types that we will explore in our limited editions, including Mopane, Sweet Thorn and other "acacia" species. Our mainstay however is the wonderfully rich Camel Thorn tree, giving deep warm flavours and a rich red amber colour to the whisky. Since this is a protected tree in South Africa, all the wood is imported from Namibia. It is our aim to plant one camel thorn tree for every barrel of African Style whisky we produce.
Our current rendition of an African Style whisky is the African Bonfire Whisky, made with smoked malt and malted sorghum and matured on Camel Thorn and French Oak. It has been described as the experience of African nights around the bushveld fire, all captured in a bottle.
The African Bonfire Whisky will be arriving soon.
by Pieter van Helden
Founder and Lead Distiller at the Helden Distillery