Helden Distillery's story starts more than 20 years ago when, at the age of 17, the founder, Pieter van Helden, was first exposed to the concept of distillation. After falling in love with what the process can do, he gradually began to focus on the art of whisky production. With a passion for Africa and innovation, the concept of African Style Whisky was born in 2017 and the Helden Distillery was founded in 2018.
The distillery is located in the picturesque Vredefort Dome - the world's largest meteor impact site and a UNESCO World Heritage area. This environment allows for a rapid and unique cask maturation profile and also provides access to unique flora, some of which are used in their non-whisky products.
Focussing on artfully establishing a new style of whisky, Helden Distillery aims to be pioneers - combining an innovative use of wood in their maturation processes with African malted grains to result in a class of whiskies distinguished not just geographically, but also in flavour. This showcases what Africa has to offer to the new world whisky arena.
Helden's aim? To artfully establish new styles of whisky combining African malted grains with an innovative wood maturation, bringing the joy of the whisky experience to a wider audience.
The name Helden means "heroes", and their distillery marries the best of the founders' heritage and their love of South Africa.
Their main single malt whisky is typically aged in 100L casks, consisting of both French and American White oak.
Helden works with South African coopers who assist them to get the best out of their maturation.
The distillery is located on the South African Highveld plateau at 1400 m above sea level, with warm, humid summers and very cold, dry winters, assisting in the unique maturation profile.
Helden also produces the world's first African Style Whisky. This style has 3 simple, but non-negotiable rules:
1. At least 51% of indigenous African grain in the grain bill (e.g. sorghum or teff)
2. Maturation or finishing of the spirit on indigenous African woods
3. Distilled and matured on African soil
Roasted malts, together with their proprietary strain of yeast are used in the production process to ensure the production of rich full new make spirits
- Helden Distillery uses a hybrid pot-column still, with a custom-designed whisky helmet to ensure maximum flavour development
Cask World's Highlights
Helden Whisky at a glance
Pieter and Maureen van Helden
Established 2018 (Licensed 2021)
Parys, South Africa
Pieter van Helden
Pieter van Helden - Founder & Lead Distiller
Dewald Hattingh - Brewer
Reason Matewe - Junior Distiller
Maureen van Helden - Communications Manager
Brewery, hybrid pot still, cask warehouse and tasting venue in the Vredefort Dome UNESCO World Heritage Site
Primary Whisky Types
Reserve Single Malt Whisky
African Bonfire Whisky
Innovate Range - Single Malt Spirits
100 L French/American Hybrid casks
100 L French Oak in combination with Camel Thorn Wood
South African Wine casks
Maturation warehouse located on the premises on the banks of the Vaal River
Av. Length of Maturation
3 – 5 years
5 - 7% p.a.
Current Bottle Prices
R450 – R1,190 (ZAR)
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