Moonshine booze movement hits SA

The American tipple has come to town in a range of handcrafted spirits, writes Neil Pendock

29 November 2017 - 16:44 By NEIL PENDOCK
The new Southern Moonshine range of unaged American-style moonshines made in South Africa.
The new Southern Moonshine range of unaged American-style moonshines made in South Africa.
Image: Supplied

In my days as a Boksburg Boy, Lance James would encourage us all to "keep it country" on SABC on Sunday nights. Well someone of a similar age was listening: Mark Taverner.

Perhaps it was the surname, but Taverner has distilled the essence of country spirit from white and yellow mealies (even if he calls it corn) in Uitvalfontein (Randfontein) and shipped it down to Cape Town, the Tavern of the Seas.

And his Southern Moonshine is not half bad, even if Google Translate thinks Uitvalfontein is "Failure Fountain" in English.

Triple-distilled in a continuous still, it's a whopping 50% alcohol or 100-proof to those born in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Chewed, it becomes sticky like a basting sauce on a rack of pork ribs. The fatty alcohol esters do a whole retro-nasal tickling trick and soon you feel like Dennis East from the East Rand.

This is the opposite of single malt whisky, even if some malted barley features in Taverner's recipe. It's a thousand kilometres away from Boland brandy, as oak does not feature in the Clear Shine version, which is better than Charred Shine which has been flavoured with oak, IMHO.

Herman Charles Bosman would not be impressed, for no mampoer is this, lacking fruits in the equation. Nor is it witblits, which is distilled from grapes. So quite ironic that local wine shows fall over themselves to give this shine gold medals galore.

No, this is a Hairy Highveld Hero. Taverner doubles as safety officer for the SA Hells Angels. Now there's an oxymoronic occupation for you.

• Southern Moonshine (R350) is available from