The Story Of Nyati Mampoer

The twin arts of fermentation and distillation have existed almost since man learned to work copper. And converting the fruits of his orchards into elixirs that warm the cockles of his heart was once second nature to almost everyone who farmed the land. But, sadly, these arts were nearly lost with the coming of the big corporations and farming conglomerates.

Nearly, but not completely. Because, thanks to the perseverance of our founder - we know him as Uncle Jack - you can experience the products of fermentation and distillation in Nyati jjj Mampoer and Nyati jjj Liqueur.

As you’d expect, there’s a story behind Nyati jjj Mampoer and Nyati jjj Liqueurs.

It began when Uncle Jack was farming game in the Hoedspruit district of Mpumalanga at his Nyati Pools bush lodge. He’s always been a bit of an individualist: in those days, all his neighbours had groves of mangoes and citrus, but Uncle Jack preferred his game.

A very serious drought in the early 'nineties rendered all the neighbours’ fruit too small to harvest. Still, you have to remove it if you want the trees to produce again in the next season. Hundreds of tons of wasted fruit were being dumped into the bush and left to rot.

Now, when you get to know Uncle Jack, you’ll learn how he hates to see anything go to waste (like last time we had a braai with him and he thought it was a waste not to open that bottle of twenty year old Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s true: he never wasted a drop).

But this throwing the fruit away was a real waste, and Uncle Jack started asking around: wasn’t there anything you could do with it?

“Ja,” said one neighbour. “You could stook it.” Only the really big brandy cellars had licenses to stook (distil), said the neighbour, and the government wasn’t going to change its mind on that. For a small, independent boer, stooking was highly illegal. And risky, too. That didn’t put Uncle Jack off. There was a wastage problem here that had to be resolved and he continued to pick the old farmer’s brain.

Funny how often coincidences happen. At just the same time that Uncle Jack was making his enquiries, a friend came to visit at the lodge - a friend who had just returned from a scientific expedition to Antarctica during which he had helped to build a still. It wasn’t long before Jack and his pal were in the workshop, making the first - 50 litre - Nyati kettle (we still have it - you’ll see it when you visit us at Jungle Jack’s Restaurant).

Uncle Jack really should have been a detective: with no literature available, he still managed to find out how the old people made their mampoer. And with his new toy, he began turning out a fine double-distilled ‘rocket fuel’ that quickly became a hit with his guests. Demand started to grow.

If you know farming folk, you’ll know how they hate to exclude their women from anything. Jack’s Jungle Juice was just too fiery for the more delicate throat, and one neighbour, apologising for criticising and begging not to appear too forward, suggested that “perhaps Jack should think about making something sweet that the ladies could enjoy?”

Not at all insulted, Uncle Jack jumped at the idea, and, with much experimentation - and much sampling of the new products - Nyati jjj Liqueurs were born.

Uncle Jack eventually sold Nyati Pools, but some things are too precious to leave behind - the little 50 litre kettle was one of them.

By the time he established himself at Buffalo Hills, democracy had come to South Africa in our almost miraculous elections of 1994. And an even greater miracle was that the laws changed so that Uncle Jack was finally able to obtain a license to legally stook his Jungle Juice.

The rest, as they say, is history and Uncle Jack’s products are now considered the finest in the land. Uncle Jack, though, remains quite modest about his achievements. “I just hated to see all that waste,” he’ll say, raising his glass in a little salute.

Today, Jack chooses only the finest fruits and he still personally oversees the fermentation and distillation processes - without ever wavering from his secret recipe or compromising on the quality of his special brand of premium Mampoer. Which is why Nyati JJJ Mampoer has thrice been voted Best Mampoer in the Country.

And why the subtle flavour of Nyati jjj embodies the pioneering spirit of the adventurer who heeds the call of wildest Africa.