The mention of Absinthe brings up images of artists in poverty drinking the stuff which drove them mad because of the wormwood used in its creation. So much so that the product was banned in various countries at various times. Of course, that is rot. The thing that drove them mad was that they drank too much of the stuff. It is super potent —often at very high proof—enough to make life go by in a very pleasant haze.

 

The liquorice flavoured absinthe was known as La Fée Verte –The Green Fairy–because of the ritual attached to the drinking of it. A perforated teaspoon on which a sugar cube was placed was suspended over a glass which had a little water in it. Over this was poured the Absinthe which turned into a seductive green sinuous green flame in the glass. There are also white absinthes and guess what they make? La Fée Blanche, of course!

 

In our country there are some very interesting spirits being made in some very interesting styles. Think of Witblits, cooked in a Karoo still, think of slivovitz, think of Rum in a very interesting guise —we have them. I am not covering things like Pernod and Ouzo in this post—they will have their own thing—this is local fire! Here are some I have tried—all fabulous—but do be careful—these are not for the fainthearted.

SUGARBIRD FYNBOS RUM

A new addition to this superb range of spirits, this Jamaican style rum ticks all the boxes that make one’s toes curl with delight. Think Bourbon, coffee and cocoa flavours overlaid with hints of nuttiness. Fynbos honey adds just the right edge to lift the spirits if you will excuse the phrase. Just the thing to splash on ice while you sit on the veranda overlooking your sugar plantations.

FRANSCHHOEK ABSINTHE

Another Gold winner, this superb blend of botanicals is true to its 16th Century roots, a worthy contender indeed, available in two sizes of bottle, just in case you can’t get enough of it. Distilled from their Chloe Shiraz wine-irresistible.

FRANSCHHOEK RUM

Fabulous earthy taste with underlying ripe figs and mild woody spice notes. Takes rum to new heights.

FRANSCHHOEK SLIVOVIC

When the 40 tons of plums the Lermers used to send to Europe became just too much, clever Jonathan Lermer decided to make Slivovic, a Gold Medal spirit—smooth as a baby’s but with a kick that makes it all worthwhile–fabulous in coffee at the end of a great meal with a cube of dark chocolate.

GRUNDHEIM WITBLITS

From Colombar grapes, double distilled, 50% proof, a classic in a bottle.

GRUNDHEIM RUMKAT

Crafted, aged and blended in the family distillery outside Oudtshoorn, double matured in American oak barrels. Notes of vanilla, cinnamon and citrus with a gentle backdrop of molasses.How about that cheeky packaging!