It is official; Drayman’s Brewery is now also Drayman’s Distillery. The ceremonial sealing of the spirit receiver and registering of the potstill was executed by Customs & Excise on 27 July 2006, after two years of planning.
Drayman’s, a micro-brewery based in Silverton, now also distills,
blends and matures Scottish style malt whisky. Never before in the history
has this nectar of the ancient alchemists been made on the Highveld of South
Africa. After 10 years of brewing pure malt beer, making pure malt, postill
whisky, seems to be a natural progression for Moritz Kallmeyer, owner, brewer
and distiller of Drayman’s.
Drayman’s Single Malt Whisky and Drayman’s Solera Whisky are the two whiskies that are made. The Single Malt by law has to be matured for at least 3 years but may well only be released after 5 years. In the mean time whisky aficionado’s can indulge in Drayman’s Solera Whisky. This is a unique blend of imported Scotch Whiskies with high malt content that are further solera matured at Drayman’s in French oak casks. Drayman’s Solera Whisky is sold in both 750ml bottles and specially coopered 4,5l miniature oak casks.
Centuries ago, casks of sherry were lashed onto ships sailing from the East Indies, as ballast. It was found that the Sherry in those butts developed an extraordinary smoothness and complexity. A progression on this rough maturation method, to achieve the same result, was most probably the origin of the Spanish Solera process. Sherry is still predominantly the product produced in the Solera process. An excellent example is the 1927 Pedro Ximenez Solera Sherry, from a Solera begun nearly 80 years ago ! It is described as an "elixer of almost ethereal proportions". Beer, Spanish brandy, Balsamic vinegar, Rum and now Whisky have also discovered the unique maturation benefits of the Spanish Solera aging method.
Draymans Solera Whisky is currently the only Solera Whisky in the world practising the traditional Spanish Solera Process. This benevolent form of alchemy involves taking an already mature whisky and adding wonderfull complexity and richness of texture. At Draymans a SOLERA literally is the set of 8 French Oak Casks, each of 225 litre capacity used in the aging process. Draymans Solera was born in 2006 when the first 4 casks were filled. Over a period of 3 to 4 years another 4 casks were filled in succession at 6 monthly intervals with new mature Scotch and South African whiskies. The first Draymans Solera Whisky was bottled in 2009 when part of the contents of the mothercask was tapped. The mothercask was then filled with the next oldest cask and that one from the second oldest cask, down to the youngest cask, which was then refilled with new whisky. This process is repeated at the end of each six monthly aging interval.
No cask is ever drained, so some of the earlier whisky always remains in each cask. With each filling the transferred whisky mixes and matures with the older whisky in the next cask. Although this remnant diminishes to a tiny level there is always significant traces of whisky much older than the average, depending on the transfer fraction. In Draymans Solera, traces of the very first whisky placed in the solera will still be present even after 50 or 100 cycles!
The amount of whisky tied up in the solera is usually many times larger than the limited bottlings. Several soleras running in parallel is thus eventually foreseen to cope with the demand. For a Craft Distiller like Draymans the solera is probably the largest capital investment, and a valuable asset that will be passed down to descendants. Managing a solera is very labour intensive by nature, requiring care and skill in transfering whisky from cask to cask, but the effort is rewarded in the end with silky smoothness and enjoyment in every sip!
The word "sherry" is an anglicization of Jerez. In earlier times sherry was known as sack, from the Spanish saca, meaning "a removal from the solera".