Mountain Spel Brandy is the newest creation by one of the ever restless National University of Lesotho (NUL) students, Mohapi Pule. The student of Nutrition, he said there is more to brandy than making the heart of the dying man rejoice. “The healthy nutrients in fruits that make brandy, end up in you when you drink it,” he said.
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His brandy is made by fermenting fruits into wine. The wine is then distilled into a brandy. It carries the flavour and the aroma of the original fruits.
The story starts when Mohapi is born in Quthing, Mphaki. He finds that he is born to a hardworking mom who creates traditional beer like no other. “She brews beer well before I am born. She is still making it to this day,” he introduces his mom.
Aware or unaware, his passion for brewing is probably born even before he is born. Mothers have a hidden way of passing not just their looks but their passions to their children.
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As he grows up, he finds that he is still intertwined with her mom’s brewing business in one way or another. “Mostly, I am expected to fetch water for the brewing process. That, I still do to this day when I visit home,” he says.
Fast-forward he finds himself in the Roma Valley, doing BSc in Nutrition.
“At some point, I find that I have lost purpose in life. There is not a thing that I can say, well, I am passionate about this thing or that thing.”
That situation, of course, throws him into soul-searching.
It brings him into his roots.
“During this period, I recall that when I was young, I used to imagine helping my mom do the packaging of the beer she was making and helping distribute it countrywide.” From a young age, the issue of subsistence business didn’t hold water to him. But that imagination came and passed. Now here he is, worried that he might not amount to anything in life.
Then, boom! An idea comes!
What if he makes an alcoholic drink?
He could have thought about anything to do as business but, lo and behold! he thinks about her mother’s passion!
One of the things he loves about alcoholic beverages is that they are popular. “I haven’t seen products as popular as alcoholic drinks.” He might be wrong or right but the reality is, the rest of the world has found a delight in alcohol—some to the extent of overdoing it to their injury!
“Mabele khunoana ralitlhaku thabisa lihoho. Mabele u tsoa kae e le khale re u batla re sa u thole? Ueeeena mabeeeele!”
Now comes the hard part. What specific beverage should he focus on and how will he do it?
He decides that he will focus on ciders. Not many people in Lesotho are making ciders. He starts experimenting from home right away and he realises that he just can’t get it right. There is no proper equipment.
You get the lesson therein. If you want to do something—start—just start.
That is the secret of innovators.
He changes the tunes as he learns about other forms of beverages: the spirits. Spirits are very high in alcohol content. Here we are talking the likes of whiskey, vodka and brandy.
He is particularly interested in vodka. He goes into one NUL laboratory and, with necessary permission, he starts testing a number of spirits and doing a lot of research about them.
He starts saving some of the money he earns from National Manpower Development Secretariat in the form of student assistance so he can buy equipment. Saving is not easy. The subsistence money is already not that much. Having to share it with a business is asking a little too much. He does it anyway. He locates a small equipment that will allow him to develop vodka, so he thinks.
He buys the equipment, only to find that it is the brandy equipment, not vodka! “Now I am forced to get into brandy by chance.” He is happy to realise that actually, few, if any, have tried brandy here in Lesotho.
Now he has already spent his money on the business. He may as well make it work.
He gets absorbed into experiments, he reads books and he even enrols for an online course on distillation. In the end, there is a light the end of this tunnel, “I’m beginning to feel a difference in the taste of my produce”.
“I share my produce with my lecturers and they are over the moon!”
He said his lecturers cheered him on. So he packaged his Brandy and he is now selling to friends and family. “My small equipment means that I can’t produce too much. If I were to get a bigger equipment, things would be much better.”
Why not get in touch to see if you can finance him?
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