Sxollie, an alcoholic apple cider that salutes the opportunistic and playful spirit of urban Africa.
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Sxollie at a glance...
How long has Sxollie cider existed?
We launched earlier this year and within a very short space of time have already made significant inroads across South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, as well as beyond, with London having also recently purchased a large tranche of stock.
How did you start crafting cider? Also, are you a one-man operation, or do you have business partners? And where are you based?
Being a born and bred Pom, cider has always been part of the furniture when it has come to the alcohol industry, however I only started crafting cider 5 years ago in New South Wales, Australia. Being one of the first entrants on the market we were able to capitalise on the cider boom. We decided to cash in and move onto the next market ripe for a cider revolution. With my South African wife/ business partner, Laura the decision was a no-brainer and we determined to re-invest our skills and capital into this country.
When it comes to South African apples we realised there was no better place than Elgin, the home of apples. Before long we had built up a strong relationship with the apples farmers and locked down the raw product that would form the basis of our ciders.
With a focus on re-investing in South Africa, a sleeping giant of an economy in our eyes, we wanted to prove to all those who have, for various reasons, moved away from South Africa that business is possible in this country. Because of this we moved to employ South Africans who would otherwise not have had the opportunities. Chris Plaatjities was our first hire and he has demonstrated the art of the “hustle” in getting SXOLLIE seen and heard across the Western Cape despite not having any prior sales experience. Today we number six members of staff and we are always on the look-out for quality, hungry, ambitious hustlers to join our team.
While we see ourselves as an urban brand, standing for the hustle and bustle of Africa, we respect our roots and have cemented our ties with the apples farmers that make our cider taste so great. To this end we want to continue bringing a flavour of the city to the countryside and have recently partnered with the Tasting Station in Elgin where alongside the elegantly cool climate Winters Drift wines, and a new Fred & Max pop-up restaurant we are striving to showcase the wonderful fruits and foods of Elgin at our very own home.
In addition, and in fitting with our urban persuasion, we have recently launched a similarly themed bar in the heart of JHB’s new centre. Doors opened in September to Parliament which pays homage to South Africa, our colourful and often turbulent history, present and bright future.
Tell us a bit more about the name Sxollie and how you decided to make it the name of your cider?
Having set up a business in Australia we were amazed by the complexity of South African legislation especially in the start-up phase. Everything took so much longer than anticipated and there were seemingly barriers at every turn. We therefore realised very early on in the process that in order to get anything done here would require more than a little bit of hustling. Rather than moan about it we decided that it was better to embrace the hustle, and so drew back to the origins of the hustler, the skollie of the Western Cape. With a bit of tweaking we chose to make the ‘k’ into an ‘x’ as we saw the potential of creating an African style patchwork of ‘x’s harking back to the x’s seen on the original drinking vessels of many African tribes. Since Laura is an archaeology scholar she was most passionate about developing a design that celebrated this continent, and yet had more than a little cool and trend about it. All that was left for us to do was change the ‘k’ into an ‘x’ and our SXOLLIE was born. We do also like to tell the story of the X at the top of our bottle, which represents the SXOLLIE who rose above all the other Xs in the pattern below. This is the inspiration we seek to give not only to our drinkers but also to all our staff and suppliers telling the story of a growing confidence in the future of South Africa if we work hard enough to succeed.
Any interesting facts about the cider itself? The method? The apples? The taste? The flavour?
Our cider is in many ways a global first. We decided that unlike other ciders who blend together a mix of apples, we would focus on the specific varietal, much in the same way that wine producers seek to do. Also we chose to steer away from traditional cider apples in the first instance, deciding that consumers are in fact more familiar with the names of apples they buy at their local Woolworths, and so would be more likely to purchase the alcoholic derivative of the fruits they recognise. However a lot of magic occurs in the production process and using a top-secret method we develop a final cider that is unlike any other you may have tried. We use only natural products, with no added sugar or nasties. Our first offering is the Golden Delicious, and we launched our Packham Pear in September, with our Granny Smith due in time for Christmas. The Golden Delicious is our medium sweet cider, fluffy, fruity and juicy. There are hints of ginger and cinnamon and the drink leaves a simply lick-smacking taste that keeps you coming back for more. Our Packham Pear is slightly different, with hints of caramel and toffee, while our driest cider, the Granny Smith is tart and crisp.
You mentioned a pear cider in the pipeline. Any other plans for the Sxollie brand?
We see SXOLLIE as being part of a bigger family of brands across our supply chain. This vision is slowly coming together with a bit of hustle and we are proud to now have:
Two alcohol brands –
SXOLLIE Cider with 2 varietals launched and one more on the way and MISSUS Wine, an incredibly tasty wine where the focus is on flavour, fun and great looks rather than the traditional wine gumph of terroir and soil type. Don’t get me wrong, we have all that, however, todays consumer and new generation of wine drinkers are looking for much more from a wine brand… we offer this and more. I can go on for ever about MISSUS, but this is about SXOLLIE, so we will leave it at that.
Two homes for SXOLLIE:
As mentioned above, we have recently launched Parliament, a Craft Beer and artisnal product bar in Parkmore, Sandton as well as
Our Tasting Station home at Winters Drift Winery in Elgin.
While I can attest to the fact the the cider is delicious on its own, do you have any suggestions for an interesting summer cocktail using Sxollie as a main ingredient?
Our current favourite is very simply and clean, like our brand.
• Tubler or any broad rimmed glass
• 2 shots of Żubrówka Vodka (it has to be this one)
• 1 bottle of SXOLLIE Golden Delicious Cider
• A pinch of cinnamon and
• A slice of fresh apple
This tastes exactly like apple pie and is too good to only have one.
Miles For Craft Beer
+27 (0) 21 461 6632