South Africa has a rich, if at times, tortured history. Many of its seminal moments are now celebrated as public holidays and one of these is National Women’s Day. Celebrated on the 9th August it commemorates the march of women in 1956 to petition against legislation that required African persons to carry special identification documents which curtailed their freedom of movement during the apartheid era. As it fell on a Friday, Jeannette & I decided to make a long weekend of it and head out to Dullstroom in beautiful Mpumalanga province.
Dullstroom is one of the coldest towns in South Africa. It is alsoa premier fly-fishing and cycling destination. Despite its name it’s anything but dull. It features the highest railway station in South Africa at 2,077 m above sea level. Dullstroom was established in 1883 by Dutchman Wolterus Dull (hence the inspirational name) to settle Dutch immigrants. During the Second Boer War the town was destroyed and most of the settlers returned to the Netherlands. Today Dullstroom is renowned for its trout and offers a sanctuary from the stresses of city living. We were however not in Dullstoom for the fly fishing but to explore a small but well stocked whisky bar in the heart of the town run by 3 whisky fanatics, Dave, Eve and Steve.
Wild about Whisky in Dullstroom
The ‘Wild about Whisky’ bar has become legendary in South Africa. It holds over 1100 bottles of whisky in their collection. Visitors can order single shots or a “tour” of six different whiskies for a fixed price. It’s about a three-hour drive from Centurion and we stayed at the Critchley Hackle hotel. We planned on combining a well-deserved long weekend break with some whisky drinking. A hike or two around the beautiful town and surrounding area was also on the agenda. In the end the weather did not play along and we had to abandon our hiking plans. Instead we focused on tasting whisky and enjoying some of the fine local cuisine in the town. Dullstroom also has a stunning raptor rehabilitation center Birds of Prey .
Over the three days we made several trips to the ‘Wild About Whisky’ bar. We tasted over 30 different whiskies. Whiskies that made particular impressions were the Wemyss Malts (with names like The Hive, Spiced Figs and Whispering Smoke), the Bowmore 12 yo, the Macallans (all of them), the Auchentoshan Heartwood and the anCnoc 12 yo . Some of the whiskies are available for sale in the small shop next to the bar and we took the chance to stock up on a few bottles. We could easily have stayed longer to continue exploring the bar. In the end, we enjoyed a fantastic long weekend away savoring some stunning whiskies in a beautiful place with really nice people. Well worth the drive!
When you are next in Dullstroom make sure to look up ‘Wild about Whisky’. If you are within any travel range, the trip is well worth the effort.
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