What is mead?
Mead is not wine, it is not beer. It is produced from fermented honey. Mead is an ancient beverage and each country where it is consumed has its own way of producing this golden liquor. Now for the first time ever, an African mead, iQhilika is being brought to the world's shelves.
iQhilika, African mead
iQhilika is a Xhosa word for mead. This beverage has its roots in the San (Bushmen) people who first populated southern Africa. From cave paintings we know that the drinking of iQhilika was a part of this ancient culture at least 25 000 years ago. The San passed their tradition and knowledge of iQhilika to the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Today the Xhosa people tell us a story that bees are the spirit of the ancestors, that honey is a gift of the gods. To the Xhosa iQhilika is known for both its health giving and aphrodisiac properties. Keeping an ages old tradition alive iQhilika is still served with honour and pride as an inspirational part of traditional Xhosa belief, at weddings and ceremonial rites. The legacy lives on.
Making of iQhilika
Makana meadery has stayed true to the traditional method in using the ingredients honey, water and the roots of an indigenous succulent herb known as imoela. However, the process differs markedly in using pollen instead of matyumza, young bee larvae, and uses a patented, state of the art continuous reactor for fermentation instead of the traditional batch methods. Whereas a batch method will take several months to ferment honey, the Makana Meadery method is capable of going from 0 to 14% alcohol in just 79 minutes.
The final product
Using the continuous fermentation reactor and coupled with a novel filtration procedure, the final product is a crisp, clear and shimmering gold coloured liquor. iQhilika production can be controlled to produce a final product of varying dryness or sweetness. Honey is produced and sourced in the Eastern Cape, which is home to several distinct biomes. This year - round diversity in flowering plants lends its subtle flavours to the final product to produce a rich variety of tastes.
The nose is reminiscent of valley bushveld flowers with a strong honey overtone. The taste is dry at first with a crisp smooth feel which leaves the mouth feeling clean and the throat pleasantly warm. The moderate glycerol content, which rivals that of a good red wine, allows the rolling development of a number of subtle aftertastes, mostly derived from the various floral nectars represented in the honey.
In terms of alcohol content, our iQhilika contains 13% ethanol and no measurable contaminant alcohols. This means that true to its traditional reputation it will not give one a hangover. Its osmotic balance means that it allows one to spend the whole evening at the dinner table, rather than the normal percentage thereof in the washroom, and best of all, the magic ingredient, pollen makes your skin feel supple and healthy the next day.
Mood, music and food
It is best consumed listening to deep rhythmic African music over a meal of interesting origin - African or Eastern, spicy and alive. Most fermented beverages make one feel a specific way: red wines - philosophical, champagne causes weddings (and etc!). iQhilika is a happy drink - expect the best. Fermented honey beverages such as iQhilika and other meads have also always been associated with fertility ... for obvious reasons.
iQhilika, African mead is bottle in clear high quality glass bottles with natural cork, and sealed in pure beeswax. Carefully designed labels are sandblasted on to the bottle. As labelling is done in-house, bottles can be customised to suit your needs.
©Copyright Grahamstown Brewery, 2001