Think of Baileys… Made from Fruit. Queue Amarula!
The Marula fruit (grown from the Marula tree -also known as the “Elephant tree” due to the animals love for the fruit) is the key ingredient of the cream liquor. Due to the specific climate required, the only place for these trees to grow is restricted to (and yet abundant in) subequatorial Africa.
Within the Limpopo province of South Africa, Phalaborwa is famous for its sun, unrivalled heat and minimal rainfall. Therefore, as a hub for the trees’ growth, the Amarula Lapa is located in the mining town’s outskirts.
The Amarula Lapa
What is the Lapa? The Lapa is where the fruit is gathered and the initial stages of the drink’s production takes place.
For a free visit to the Lapa, the experience includes: a perfectly prepared taster drink, a short explanation of the drink and its history, a quick DVD exploring the origins of the fruit and the company, a tour of the factory, a taste of the fruit and -of course- a visit to the shop. The entire experience shouldn’t take more than two hours and, excluding any purchases made at the shop and any discretionary tips, comes at zero cost. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable experience with happy & friendly staff.
Ripening between January and March, local gatherers amass at the Lapa after collecting the small yellow and oval fruits which are then passed on to the factory. They are sorted by the workers, thoroughly washed, and then destoned as the fruit pulp and kernels are separated. Finally, the pulp is cooled and sent to the Western Cape of SA in Stellenbosch (where the distillery is located). To skip over the details; after fermentation, the Marula wine is produced and aged before being mixed with fresh cream.
(MOST IMPORTANT-) How to enjoy…
Best served on the rocks, over a mountain of crushed ice.
As a cream liquor, Amarula (17%) can be found mixed into copious amounts of cocktails and is also thoroughly enjoyed over ice cream or combined with coffee.
Personally, we find it best complimented with coffee and chocolate flavours. Hence we enjoy mixing it with a dop of Kahlua and milk or smothering over chocolate ice cream. It is also commonly recommended with banana, coconut and vanilla combinations which we’re yet to try.
Amarula also sports typical liquor fashion and sells Amarula Chocolates/Fudge/etc. As well as recently introducing an Amarula Gold (30%), this spirit can be enjoyed as a smooth shot or is allegedly best enjoyed mixed with appletizer (sparkling apple juice), ginger ale or soda.
For true fans: clothing, hats and beer mats are available.
Cosmetics made from the fruit are also increasing in popularity if your skin cannot handle the dry heat of the Limpopo Province.
If visiting Phalaborwa between January-March, we’d both recommended taking a quick trip to visit The Amarula Lapa (Mon-Fri 08:00-17:00, Sat 08:00-16:00). Even if not interested in the background information, I mean… you get a FREE DRINK and the staff are great. Plus, elephants get drunk on the fruit, so how can it not be good?
Even if you’re in a rush, the Lapa is merely a 10 minute drive from the centre of Phalaborwa and the excursion could probably be minimalised to a 20 minute experience if you want to avoid the factory tour.
Check out these websites for a little more information if you’re interested: