The Queen’s Tears

In 1879, when Queen Victoria was told of the British defeat by the Zulu army at Isandlwana, she wept into her whisky. Since then, isiZulu speakers have called the finest Scotch whisky Izintembezi zenkosikazi – ‘The Queen’s Tears’. The British had underestimated their foes, leading to the worst defeat of the British army by an indigenous force anywhere. They returned a few months later, massively reinforced, to defeat the Zulu army at Ulundi.

Fine whisky, fine art, a taste to savour

Sipping Izintembezi zenkosikazi evokes the victories and defeats that shaped this part of the world.

Not long after, gold was discovered on the Reef and mineshafts rose rapidly over its harsh landscape – captured in William Kentridge’s drawing to mark Izintembezi zenkosikazi. 

Gold is the colour of this whisky, and the colour of the sun that day over Isandlwana, which saw a brief solar eclipse at 2.29pm. ‘The sun turned black in the middle of battle … and then turned gold again,’ as one Zulu warrior recorded. It was an omen for victory.

Zintembezi zenkosikazi is a fine and distinctive Islay whisky in a limited edition commemorating the day a Zulu army brought Queen Victoria to tears with a label by South Africa’s most renowned living artist.


The Whisky

A 14-year-old, single malt, single barrel, cask strength Port Charlotte whisky from the Bruichladdich Distillery in Islay, Scotland. Peaty, distinctive and strong (54,3%), in 700ml bottles.

The Label

A William Kentridge 2019 charcoal drawing, created for this whisky.

Limited Edition

222 numbered, boxed bottles.

The Series

This is the first in a series of whiskies, each a fine single malt with a label by an eminent South African artist.

The company

This whisky is bottled and imported by The Queen’s Tears (Pty) Ltd, a company registered in South Africa (2021/520654/07).