• As the ninth largest whisky market in the world, South Africa imports 42 million bottles of Scotch whisky every year. And while strict global regulations on Scotch production have ensured premium standards are maintained across the international stage, the latest introduction of a new spirit category in the South African market – the ‘whisky aperitif’, has local distillers rejoicing.

    No longer restricted by traditional rules made for outdated whisky-drinking stereotypes, this new classification has opened the doors for more adventurous distillers to deliver a warm, grain whisky at the heart, that is amplified with local flavours.

    Industry leader Toor Whisky is one of the first to come to the party, with the recent launch of two new whisky aperitifs – their Camel Thorn and Rooibos releases – building on the brand’s existing Toor Whisky grain in the market.

    The two new products added to the portfolio each contain a well-balanced, nutty, caramel and stone-fruit palate and a well-refined finish with hints of maple and earth. Enhanced with camel thorn wood and rooibos leaves respectively, the distinct flavours are added using vacuum cycling technology at Doña distillery, under the watchful eye of Toor’s stellar distiller, Danielle Schoeman.


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    Camel thorn is not an easy wood to make a barrel from. So, for Toor to feature the flavour of this iconic wood in a whisky, it was necessary to work alongside the South African government to develop a spirit category that would enable them to expose the whisky spirit to camel thorn wood post-ageing.

    A whisky before a whisky?

    Still a premium product, being a whisky aperitif does not diminish the standard and quality of the whisky, as distillers are still required to use real whisky as the base liquid, made with grain spirit and aged in wooden caskets. However, what it does allow, is for greater innovation and the development of distinct whisky personalities through flavour infusions.

    For Toor, this translates to a whisky that is well-balanced, fun, and most importantly local, catering to a young and vibrant market of South African whisky drinkers.

    Not only is the whisky aperitif a more light-hearted, adventurous drink, but because of government regulation, it is also lower in alcohol content, with a maximum of 30% alcohol content for the category, compared to 43% in the original grain whisky.

    For many whisky drinkers, this translates to additional benefits, like lower calories, which makes it the perfect summer drink of choice for those concerned about keeping their summer bodies in check. For others, they may just have to pour a double!


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    As with any new category, the jury is out as to what the local market will think, but Toor’s intention over the coming years is to release more proudly South African flavours that showcase the local culture as well as an appreciation for the fun, lighter side of life.

    The full Toor Whisky range is stocked at a variety of outlets, including Takealot and Makro for national delivery, and in selected Tops at Spar in the Western Cape and Gauteng for easy access over festive season.

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    Feature image: Mpak ART studio | Ilarion Ananiev via Getty Images

    Issued by Mimik