WEA FF 3005 Gin Bar 3) the perfect martini, shaken not stirred Picture and story Bianca Coleman

Cape Town - When you think of Buitenverwachting you no doubt think of wine, or the fabulous restaurant which has just been inducted into TripAdvisor’s hall of fame, or even the Coffee Bloc deli. Until now, you wouldn’t have thought of gin.

After a year and a half spent perfecting the gin, managing director of the farm Lars Maack launched it at the Constantia Fresh festival earlier this year, and the initial run of 2 000 bottles was snapped up in a matter of days.

We had breakfast last week – with gin and tonic – so I could find out more about the gin, which is one of only two made in South Africa.

Why gin? “First of all I like gin, and my wife drinks so much gin it is worth our while to make our own,” joked Maack, who has several years experience of distilling various fruits, and is still happily married. “What makes gin different from fruit is that fruit is quite simple. With our gin we use just under 30 botanicals, some of which only become apparent at different alcohol levels.”

There followed a fairly detailed scientific explanation for this, and the lengthy process of achieving the perfect gin, but I think what is important is that the end result is a beautiful, soft, aromatic spirit in which I picked up a predominantly rosemary note. How can you not love a drink that is made with lavender and orange blossom? Other botanicals include lemon and coriander, so both go well with the gin in the glass.

“It’s like perfume. You sit there with all your different flavour profiles and decide if you want more cinnamon characters, or more lemony characters, until you are happy with the recipe. Once you have your recipe you’re fine. It’s getting there that’s the challenge,” said Maack, who arrived at that point with the help of his friend and third-generation distiller Jörg Saupp, who made frequent trips from Germany until everyone was happy.

With a fine gin such as this, which retails at R280 a bottle and is available from the winery, where it is included in the tastings, you don’t want to muck around with it too much. I’d keep it clean and simple as a martini, or over ice with tonic and a slice of lemon. We have much more choice than before, so look out for imported tonic like Fevertree or locally made Swaan.

l Buitenverwachting is on Klein Constantia Road, Constantia. Call the winery on 021 794 5190, or see www.buitenverwachting.com.

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