2019: The year of our first win; our biggest collab and the bottling of Master Solera.

There are several versions of a meme with the following words going around on social media: “2019 is almost over and all I have to say is ‘what the f****k was that.”

If you ask people about this, the over-arching opinion seems to be that it was a tough year that went by in a flash. Some describe it as a speed wobble just before the finish line. Others feel this year was a slap in the face. You feel the pain. You know you have been slapped but you are still trying to figure out who it was and why they slapped you.

For our country this year was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we had harrowing incidents of violence against women and children; we’re being plunged into darkness by Eskom numerous times and the Bosasa enquiry uncovered unbelievable incidents regarding alleged state capture. On the other hand, the Springboks won the world cup; Siya Kolisi became an example of how it is your future, not your past that counts and we have another South African Miss Universe.

For Whistler it was a good year, to be honest. Not easy, but good.

If this year was a flavour, I would describe it as coconut because, in my opinion, a coconut is symbolic of starting a small business – on the outside it is hairy, coarse, hard and unaccommodating, but when you eventually open it, you discover the soft, sweet coconutty centre that is very enjoyable.

This year was definitely a “coconut” for us, but a coconut in reverse. From the outside many people only see the soft, sweet, delicious component that is our rums, in this instance, but they don’t realise how hard and tough it is on the inside – considering the business side of things.

A stand-out moment was definitely when we were awarded the “Best Rum of Show” trophy at the Old Mutual Trophy Spirits Show earlier this year.

Since we started making rum, a lot of people encouraged us to enter competitions but, to be honest, I always had my reservations. The reason being that I always thought we are not ready because our rum could be better, meaning I lost sight of the fact that our rum was pretty great already.

Thankfully my brother-in-law Stef (Stephan de Vos, one of the co-founders of Whistler African Style Rum) put his foot down, saying this is one we should enter. I am very glad he did because we entered and, against all odds, we won.  We’ll definitely enter competitions again next year. There are already a few we have in mind. Even an international one.

Another big highlight was the Boplaas Barrel Exchange (sold out) as well as the fact that we introduced Master Solera into the market. With the Boplaas Barrel Exchange, the quality of the product exceeded our expectations.

Master Solera has been like “our baby” we have been working on since the beginning of Whistler. This year we bottled it for the first time, and it is a beautiful rum. A hidden gem; an unsung hero. Tastes amazing. Looks amazing.

So, whether you had a good year or feel like 2019 slapped you through the face, at least you whistled your own tune. To a well-earned break. May you and all of yours have a blessed festive season and a happy holiday.

Cheers till 2020,


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