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The spirit of success

Not many people are aware that Boksburg boasts a glamorous world-class distillery where
you can treat your palate to award-winning craft rum and gin spirits.

Entering the African Spirit premises, you are bowled over by the impressive scene of huge copper and stainless-steel distillers and shiny equipment and you can’t help but feel proud that such an elite establishment has been founded in Boksburg.

We caught up with the owner of African Spirit, Fritz Steyn, and his family at the distillery to find out more and get tips on the numerous ways to enjoy gin and rum.

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African Spirits is the brainchild of Fritz Steyn and his sons, Fritz junior, Jan Harm, and son-in-law Frans Immink. The initiative was inspired by the ‘legend of Oupa Joe’, as told by Fritz: “Oupa Joe and his neighbour used to brew mampoer on a smallholding on the banks of Bullfrog Pan, Benoni.

Here, they would taste and test their illegally processed apricot mash and by late afternoon they would return home loud and giddy with their newly reduced mampoer.”

Jan Harm tried to make his own brew on a minute scale, with disastrous results, according to his dad.

Intrigued by his granddad’s ‘hobby’, Jan Harm conducted internet research into distilling. He bought a 30-litre copper geyser and after many attempts, he managed to build a still.

The product, however, was undrinkable. He still remembers how the 2-litre plastic bottles he filled with his potion would explode, sometimes in the middle of the night, waking everyone in a panic.

When Fritz was finally convinced that his son had distilled alcohol, he and Jan Harm attended a course. Later he decided that it could become a potential business. He bought a 25-litre still and all the necessary equipment, and with newly acquired knowledge, Jan Harm started distilling.

Fritz envisioned turning this into a family business and he sent the three young men on another course. He started revamping an old building in Anderbolt, which was originally built in 1927, keeping the beautiful pressed ceilings and constructing the distillery at the back of the house.

The three crafters started off by creating three outstanding spirits, Classic Rum, Classic Gin and Madagascan Vanilla Rum, and their Classic Rum won gold at the 2018 Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards.

Two new rum infusions, especially for women, have recently been added to the collection – Rum & Ruby, which has fragrant cinnamon aromas with hints of sweet wild cherries, and Rum & Rose, which has a delicate rose water aroma. Mmm … sounds delish!

“Rum is going to be the new gin,” said Fritz, adding that this is already happening in Europe.

The African Spirit Distillery has opened its doors, offering a wide array of signature cocktails, an in-house kitchen, distillery tours, distillery tastings, private events, end-of-year functions, corporate events and more.

See a video of the premises at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwwiybmIG-I

Details: [email protected], www.africanspirits.com

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