It seems that lovers of witblits – the fiery, young, rustic distillate that’s an old Cape tradition, and a slightly less old Transvaal one – are willing to put plenty of effort into finding the stuff. Well, there’s not much easily available, so I daresay you have to know where and how to find the comparatively little of it that’s around.
I recently had an email from just such an ardent seeker. Wayne Sussman had read the article I wrote about my visit with Eben Sadie to some extraordinary vineyards near St Helena Bay and the hamlet of Dwarskersbos, up the West Coast (see here). The prime point of my visit was to see where Eben’s Skerpioen wine originated, but I was happy to also take in (and report on) my tasting of the witblits made by farmer MW Voges.
It was the latter part that got Wayne Sussman interested, and set him searching. He wrote to me: “It is good that I am not a policeman because I have spent much time trying to locate this particular nectar. I have contacted fisherman with the surname Voges, I have spoken to B+B owners in the area, I have mined the phonebooks of Dwarskersbos, St Helena Bay, Velddrif and Aurora, but alas to no avail.”
Could I help? Well, no, not directly, but I forwarded his mail to the great Eben Sadie, who clearly also recognised a fanatic deserving of some assistance. Eben replied that MW (who “hardly picks up his landline” is currently sold out. “His witblits only lasts for about 2 months of the year and typically he will start distilling in March of every year. He only makes one cask per year, so it is not much but it is good for sure.”
So Eben promised to pass on Wayne’s details, and set in train the process of getting him onto “the list” for the next allocation. Good. Wayne says that “not even the Kultuur Stokers Gilde know about MW Voges. I suppose it is their loss.”
The “Kultuur Stokers Gilde”! Now there’s a wonderful thought. I discover that this is an organisation for makers and lovers of mampoer and witblits founded in 1983, and the organisers of an annual mampoer festival. They have a website (not to mention being on Facebook), so go there if you want to find out more, and if your Afrikaans is up to it. Sipping witblits while you do so, if your stomach lining is up to it.