Amir, a stylish new halaal drink

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South Africa

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I first discovered amir at the Food and Hospitality World show earlier this year. What drew me first was the beautifully designed bottle and second, the delectable description of it’s contents. A unique blend of quality grape juice and rooibos tea mixed with various indigenous herbs to create enticing black currant flavours with whiffs of tropical guava and herbaceousness.
 
For anyone who has been to a muslim wedding or function elaborately draped with elegant decor and tableware only to be foiled by the addition of a plastic bottle of coke or some other soft drink in the middle of this gracious affair, here is a product that will retain that touch of style on your table and offer a sophisticated taste that isn’t only grape juice. It has been developed to enhance the food experience, lending the ultimate mouth feel for the next bite. Amir does not position itself as a wine substitute. It has been developed precisely because a gap in the market was recognised by Leonard Arangies from The Art of Taste.
After visiting Turkey in 2008, Leonard realized what a huge opportunity there was in the market for an adult non-alcoholic drink. In Turkey, as in many other non-drinking countries, the dining table is elaborate and laden with beautifully prepared foods and family recipes often passed down from generation to generation, only to be paired with sugary soda pop and unimaginative fruit juice blends which are simply too sweet to pair well with food. He saw that Arab & Muslim weddings were in great need of such a product and set about to develop exactly that.Back home in South Africa Leonard started by blending grape juice and tea whilst often adding indigenous herbs in order to find the correct balance and taste profile. Depending heavily on his knowledge of wine this process was time-consuming, but thorough. After a year, six unique drinks had been crafted, each of which had to be paired with a specific food. Leonard embarked on an international road trip to countries such as India, Oman, Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. It was important to test the taste profile and also to find packaging that would not offend any culture. The product was very well received and Amir is the first flavour to be commercially packaged. It has gone on to receive the award for Mihas Best Product at the World Halaal Week Expo in Kuala Lumpur.
While it is doing well internationally, it is still pretty difficult to get hold of the product locally. I did manage to meet with Leonard who was kind enough to drop me some samples so I could taste it for myself. After an interesting conversation about how the palatte works and anticipates various flavours I felt that bit more educated in the Art of Taste (sorry, couldn’t resist).
I enjoyed my amir experience with some lovely local cheese, pesto and crackers. I chilled the bottle in the freezer till it was frosty before opening. The taste was intense and fruity. I was not expecting the bubbles but the very slight fizz was lovely and refreshing.
Amir is Halaal Certified. Can’t wait for it to hit the South African market.

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