food

Amarula Harvest


Whether it’s the star of one your favourite recipes, you prefer it mixed into a Don Pedro, or you simply enjoy it as an after dinner nightcap, chances are you have tried Amarula Cream Liqueur. What you might not know, however, is that while it is locally produced from the marula fruit that grows in abundance in the Phalaborwa region of Limpopo, it’s actually the second best-selling cream liqueur in the world. Having recently born witness to the harvesting process and visited the Amarula Lapa and nearby factory, it’s interesting to note how small-scale the production of the beverage is, when you consider it’s widespread popularity. Amarula’s largest shareholder, Distell, encourages the local community’s involvement in the harvesting process, paying locals by the kilo for harvesting the fruit. The marula fruit is not picked from the trees (which can live for up to 200 years, and are a favoured source of food for elephants, hence the association with the animal), but rather harvested from the ground. As a result, masses of bags of the fruit are delivered to the factory on a daily basis, following which, it is washed, de-stoned and the pulp is pumped into large cooling tanks. There are, on average, 12 to 13 marula fruit in a 750ml bottle of Amarula. The pulp is then transported to Stellenbosch, where it is fermented with a yeast culture, and the fruit sugar is converted to alcohol. At this point it is a clear ‘wine’ which is transferred to the distillery for a second distillation in copper pots, which helps concentrate the marula flavours. Finally, the spirit is matured in French oak barrels for two years, before the cream is added and the delicious drink we are familiar with is bottled and distributed. The harvest season occurs at the height of summer, from mid-January to mid-March. Temperatures in the area can be very high, but if you’re visiting the Kruger National Park and want to find out more about the heritage of this local tipple, it’s worth a stop at the Amarula Lapa (the brand’s hospitality centre) en route. Visit amarula.co.za for more information. Text Raphaella Frame-Tolmie