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Indian master distiller gets a taste for South Africa

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A master distiller, Michael D’Souza, visited South Africa recently to share a few notes with whisky connoisseurs on the great Indian single malt. 


When a master distiller arrives in South Africa from a part of the world that is equally diverse, the result is a spirited confluence of cultures and expressions.

On Michael D’Souza’s first trip to the ‘Rainbow Nation’ from India, he was pleasantly surprised that besides the weather and the people, even the local food reminded him of a vibrancy he thought was only to be found back home. The similarities made him instantly feel at home.  

“India is a massively diverse nation. There are different religions, cultures, colors and different foods. It is very vibrant; the vibrancy is what we wanted to have inside the bottle,” he says, when we meet him on a balmy Friday evening in November in Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile.

D’Souza has been making single malt whiskies for John Distilleries since 2008 in Goa, the Indian destination deemed a tropical paradise the world over for its sandy beaches, swaying palms and uber-cool vibe.

Inspired by this trip to South Africa, D’Souza now wants to create a fusion that combines unique tastes from both regions.

“After tasting a couple of South African gins, and to be honest, I have always thought about creating craft gin, I am thinking of making a South African botanic infused gin. It can be an infusion of Indian spices and botanicals mixed with South African botanicals. India is famous for its own spices, especially coriander and cumin. I can infuse this with some of the South African botanicals like rooibos.”

D’Souza, who has been in this profession for 25 years now, enjoys traveling the world to explore drinking cultures whilst offering his palate a taste of different blends.

Founded in 1992 by Paul P. John, Paul John Single Malt Whisky has won over 200 international awards in six years and is present in 35 countries around the world.The company distributes about 40,000 cases of whisky.

For D’Souza, the shift in India’s drinking culture can be judged by the increasing demand for single malt whiskies despite being 15 years behind the western and European markets.

“India is one of the world’s emerging economies and the buying capacity of people is increasing. They are gradually shifting from cheaper whiskies to premium whiskies. A lot of youngsters travel the world and once they come back, they change their drinking preferences.”

The man who enjoys his whisky neat says the company decided to grow into international markets faster.

Paul John Single Malt Whisky has been distributed in South Africa for over a year.

On his recent two-week tour, D’Souza visited Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

“Johannesburg is one of the biggest markets for us… I found that it is a mix of quality and cost-consciousness. I have been to a lot of big retailers and I saw a lot of Irish and blended whiskies selling.”

Back home in coastal Goa, the climate not only adds flavor to the fusion but allows the spirit to mature faster.

“India is a different region altogether. The beauty of whisky is that each and every whisky will have its own regional characteristics because once distilled, the spirits go inside the wooden cask. Once it is filled, it not only interacts with the wood, but also with the world,” says D’Souza.

The distilled barley, found at the foothills of the Himalayas, absorbs the saltiness through the pores of the oak cask adding more character to the whisky.

D’Souza, who presented a whisky masterclass at the 2018 Whisky & Spirits Live Festival in Sandton, Johannesburg, attests:  “Our whisky has been received very well by South Africans.”

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Coca Cola South Africa Improves SME Role In Value Chain

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Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) launches an R20 million fund for small supplier development and procurement, annually, for the next five years.

This was announced by the Financial Director, Walter Leonhardt at Gallagher Convention Centre at the third annual Supplier Development Conference.

CCBS is the South African-based subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA).

Leonhardt said the purpose of this fund is to assist young upcoming black entrepreneurs in the Coca-Cola value chain.

“We are, today, launching the CCBSA supplier fund of access to funding. To address the issue of access to funding which most SMEs experience,” said Leonhardt.

This will enable the entrepreneurs’ procurement process to be easier.

“It is to help them buy equipment, fund working capital and to help them overcome something we have identified as a challenge for upcoming businesses, which is access to capital on quit lenient terms,” said Leonhardt.

Budding entrepreneurs can visit their website to find out how they can access the funds.

There were over 120 suppliers of CCBSA in attendance.

Managing director of CCBSA Velaphi Ratshefola said they spent R2.35 billion last year, supporting 567 black-owned suppliers, of whom, 265 were black female owned suppliers.  

“So for me, it is clear that this is working. We have helped create a very inclusive economy. We need to play our part and we need to ensure that only through an inclusive growing economy we can create a stable environment where businesses can flourish.

“If we do not have a stable environment, a stable economy, we will have a lot of disturbances which are never good for business,” said Ratshefola.                      

“So for all of us, we should not do it just for social reasons, we must do it for the success of businesses and imperative,” said Ratshefola. 

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Zimbabwe Central Bank Borrows $985 Million From African Banks

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Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank has borrowed $985 million from African banks to purchase fuel and other critical imports with current reserves covering imports for just four weeks, underscoring the severity of dollar shortages, governor John Mangudya said.

The southern African nation last month ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars, merging them into a lower-value transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

Mangudya said the central bank borrowed $641 million from the African Export and Import Bank, $152 million from Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, and $25 million from Mozambique’s central bank, among others.

The loans, which would be repaid from future gold earnings, have a tenure of between three and five years and attract an interest of up to 6 percent above the Libor rate, Mangudya said.

Gold is Zimbabwe’s single biggest mineral export earner, accounting for a third of its $4.2 billion earnings last year after a record output, central bank data shows.

“These loans are well structured facilities contracted last year. They will be paid from future (gold) export receivables,” Mangudya told a parliamentary committee.

The central bank takes 45 percent of dollar sales from gold producers and half from other miners to fund imports like fuel and power and repay foreign loans.

But the miners only have 30 days to keep their dollar balances in local foreign currency accounts, after which they must sell them. The companies have asked the central bank to extend the period they may keep their dollars to 90 days, according to mining executives.

OVERDRAFT LIMIT

Unable to get funding from foreign lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank due to arrears of more than $2.4 billion, Zimbabwe has looked to financiers from the continent and local banks to shore up its budget.

The central bank chief said Zimbabwe had just $500 million in reserves, enough to purchase four weeks’ worth of imports.

Mangudya said government borrowing from the central bank reached $2.99 billion in December, about three times its permissible overdraft limit.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has promised to curb borrowing in 2019 under reforms to revive the southern African economy, after the budget deficit soared last year following a spike in spending ahead of elections.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said last week that the local RTGS dollar, Zimbabwe’s new de facto currency, will be backed up with fiscal discipline and the government would allow it to fluctuate but would manage excessive volatility.

On the interbank forex market on Monday, one U.S. dollar fetched 2.5 RTGS dollars, the same rate as on Feb. 22 when the central bank sold some dollars to banks. That compares to a rate of 3.5 RTGS dollars per U.S. dollar on the black market. -Reuters

-MacDonald Dzirutwe

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Volvo To Limit Car Speeds In Bid For Zero Deaths

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Volvo Cars said on Monday it will introduce a 180 km per hour (112 mph) speed limiter on all new vehicles as the Swedish automaker seeks to burnish its safety credentials and meet a pledge to eliminate passenger fatalities by 2020.

While Volvo, whose XC90 flagship SUV currently has a top speed of 212 km/h, has made progress on its so-called “Vision 2020” target of zero deaths or serious injuries, Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said it is unlikely to meet the goal without additional measures to address driver behavior.

“We’ve realized that to close the gap we have to focus more on the human factors,” Samuelsson said. Volvo did not elaborate on the data but said its passenger fatalities were already well below the industry average before the goal was announced in 2007.

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In addition to the speed cap, Volvo plans to deploy technology using cameras that monitor the driver’s state and attentiveness to prevent people driving while distracted or intoxicated, two other big factors in accidents, Samuelsson said.

The company is also looking at lower geo-fenced speed limits to slow cars around sensitive pedestrian areas such as schools, while seeking to “start a conversation” among automakers and regulators about how technology can be used to improve safety.

Volvo, which is owned by China’s Geely, announced the new speed limitation policy on the eve of the Geneva auto show, where its new Polestar performance electric-car brand is showcasing its second model, the Polestar 2.

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While Volvo buyers often choose the brand for its safety, Samuelsson conceded that the speed cap could be a turn-off for a few in markets such as Germany, where drivers routinely travel at 200 km/h or more on unrestricted autobahns.

“We cannot please everybody, but we think we will attract new customers,” the CEO said, recalling that the roll-out of three-point seat belts pioneered by Volvo in 1959 had initially been criticized by some as intrusive.

“I think Volvo customers in Germany will appreciate that we’re doing something about safety,” he said. -Reuters

– Laurence Frost; additional reporting by Esha Vaish

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