Near Phalabrowa in Limpopo Province, the trees grow in the wild, the way nature intended. No irrigation is used and the skies are relied upon to release their seasonal rains. When the sun is ready, it lets the fruit ripen to a sweetly delicious and exotic concentration of flavour.
The succulent summer fruit is a critical ingredient in Amarula and gives it its unique taste. It is gathered by local rural communities and taken to a series of collection points. Harvesters are paid for every kilogram they deliver and the proceeds of their picking have become a valued source of income for their families.
At Amarulas production centre, each fruit is individually checked to ensure it is fully ripened and free of blemishes before the flesh is crushed with the skins. In a de-stoning tank, rotating blades separate the flesh from the hard seeds or nuts. The fruit pulp is pumped into cooling tanks, where it is kept at a consistent temperature below 6 degrees C, to prevent uncontrolled fermentation.
The marula pulp is then transported to the cellars in Stellenbosch where it is fermented under conditions similar to wine making. After fermentation, the marula wine is distilled twice, first in column stills and then in copper pot stills, to create a young marula distillate. It is essential that the fresh marula wine is distilled as quickly as possible to retain its fresh fruity flavours. During the second distillation the marula flavours are further concentrated. To enrich and deepen its flavours, the spirit is aged slowly in wood, spending two years in small oak barrels, where wood spice characters of vanilla and toast are naturally imparted. Another important ingredient is fresh dairy cream. It gives Amarula its rich and velvety smooth consistency.