African-Made Libations Are Taking Center Stage With Spearhead Spirits

Dating back to the very first historical records, Africans have been using fruits, grains, and other botanical elements to make spirits, notes The African Studies Centre Leiden. Think beers made from bananas, maize, and sorghum; alcohol made from the sap of palm trees; and mead, an alcohol fermented from honey and water. "I've found that there is a world of amazing African spirits with indigenous products," Director of Value Africa Daniel Idowu told Food52. Some labels are aiming to not only preserve the history and traditions of African spirits, but bring them to a global audience. 

When co-founders Chris Frederick and Damola Timeyin first launched Spearhead Spirits in 2021, their mission was to create liquors that could represent the quality ingredients and craftsmanship that can be found within the continent, according to a press release. With vodkas and gins infused with unique plants and ingredients found throughout Africa's rich, diverse landscape, Frederick and Timeyin's flavorful brand is already winning fans around the world.

An artisan label making global waves

Spearhead Spirits aims to provide serious and curious drinkers alike with "authentic and diverse drinking experiences" with copper-distilled gin and sugarcane vodka. 

Vusa, the vodka label, is made in small batches and filtered through Baobab fruit shells to deliver a smooth finish and crisp taste. Bayab, Spearhead Spirits' gin, is distilled from African Juniper berries, rosemary, cinnamon, lemon peel, locally-grown wheat, and the Baobab fruit. The gin took home gold and silver medals at the 2021 and 2022 San Francisco Wine and Spirits competitions, per a press release. Vusa has equally made a name for itself, bagging awards at the same show and ranked by Good Housekeeping as 2022's "Best Vodka." Since 2021, the spirit brand has sold at least 35,000 units and will continue to grow in the coming years.

Most recently, Spearhead Spirits received a $3 million dollar investment from Pendulum, an investment and advisory group that supports leaders of color. The investment will help the entrepreneurs expand from Europe into the American market. With their bright, colorful labels, Spearhead Spirits bottles will surely look as good placed on top of bars as they will taste mixed into any cocktail.