Africa’s alcohol market is somewhat unbalanced, with four breweries taking up 90% of the beer corner, and a significant amount of hard alcohol drinkers making their drink at home, making it tough for manufacturers to earn their business. So for an alcohol brand to gain a following, they have to do something different from the rest. But with the continent seeing growing levels of disposable income, it can pay off big time for alcohol brands to make a statement. Here are 8 unique African alcohol brands.
Azul Distillery in Kimberley cannot technically call its product Tequila because it doesn’t come from the Tequila region of Mexican state Jalisco. However, their drink will make the perfect margarita and shots with lime and salt. What makes the product stand out is that it’s made from 100% Agave, whereas most of the tequilas sold in South Africa are only around 50 percent agave and fifty percent sugars, according to Drinksfeed.com. Azul is the first Agave Distillery outside of Mexico.
Casablanca Lager is a pale, light lager with five percent alcohol content, and that comes in a larger beer than most of the competitors. It’s one of the country’s most popular beers, served at major venues like the Moroccan pavilion at Disney World’s Epcot Center, says Cnn.com. It has notes of dates, figs, tea, and honey, says Worldbeerexperience.blogspot.com.
Orijin is produced by Guinness Nigeria and is a combination of beer and bitters. The beverage has flavors of African fruits and herbs, and is slightly sweet, says Nairaland.com. One bold move the producers made was to list the ingredients of the drink. Very few beers list the ingredients, but rather just the “notes” or “tastes” one can expect. The beverage reportedly came about after beer companies in the country were struggling, because alcohol consumers preferred the herbs of bitters, which they believe to have medicinal powers. Guinness Nigeria stepped in and made a drink that’s the best of both worlds.
Three Ships Whiskey was the first single malt whiskey made in South Africa, and after the first batch came out in 2010, it sold out fast. The whiskey comes from the James Sedgwick Distillery, which has been in South Africa since 1886. The Three Ships label only came about in 1977 and was started by an Irish businessman. Creating South African whiskey, when most alcohol consumers thought of Scotch when ordering the dark drink, was an adventurous choice, but the drink has a 93 percent rating on Underthelabel.com.
Addis Honey Wine makes one of Ethiopia’s favorite beverages, Tej, or, honey wine. Tej is easy to brew at home, not requiring the complicated equipment that beer does, but it’s illegal to sell home-made Tej in restaurants, which is where Addis Honey Wine comes into play. Addis Honey Wine is an import brand from Ethiopia that you can find in Ethiopian markets throughout the African Diaspora. The drink itself is spicy, syrupy and cloudy, says Sdcitybeat.com.
Akpeteshie has been compared to Russian vodka and is a very strong beverage. The name translates to “hide and drink” because it used to be forbidden in the country. It has an almost toxic smell, and tastes harsh, but consumers of the stuff have had almost psychedelic-like responses, as described in Moorekwesi.blogspot.com. The drink is made by distilling palm wine or sugar cane juice and is mostly home brewed, but there is a distillery in the Accra-area coastal town of Ada Foah, on an island called Afrivi.
East African Breweries Limited has been producing Uganda Waragi—known as Ugandan gin—since 1965 and it’s the company’s top selling alcohol. Waragi is made from bananas and millet, and the resulting product is clear and spicy. The company branded the gin, and bottles in it an iconic bottle with a label that says, “The Spirit of Uganda.” The drink is so popular that consumers have nicknamed it UG, says Sipsmith.com.
There are a few vodka distilleries in South Africa, but most make their product from grain while Viva Vodka makes their product from tropical sugar cane. The brand is very new and started spreading its name in 2013 by hosting pop-up bars at night markets. Viva is the first “super-premium” vodka in the country, says Getitonline.co.za, and sets itself apart in a blood-red bottle, featuring a silhouette of South Africa on a red star.
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