Jorgensen’s Distillery

Food News, Reviews

A few weeks ago, I met Dawn Jorgensen after having mentioned that I was a huge limoncello fan.  Dawn kindly offered to do a tasting of her and her husband Roger’s Primitiv vodka and organic limoncello.  Roger is the master distiller and an alchemist of all things boozy!  Dawn handles the marketing, and has generated an incredible amount of excitement around the brand in a very short space of time.  After tasting their delicious vodka and limoncello, and hearing how passionate these people were about what they were doing, I knew there was a trip to the Jorgensen’s farm in Wellington to plan and a wonderful story waiting to be told.

I visited the distillery on the first day of Roger’s absinthe production, and couldn’t believe my luck!  Rog had laid out all of the ingredients out for me and took me through each one, how it was grown, where it came from and the part that it played in the final product.  I was astounded at the number of herbs and spices that made up the absinthe, and took pictures of each to bring back and show you.  Certain ingredients are used to flavour the spirit, thus they are added at the beginning of the process.  Others are added after distillation and are used to colour the absinthe and add lighter notes, creating a complex, well-balanced flavour.   The absinthe is distilled in a copper pot still at a consistent temperature of 75’C, and takes about 24 hours to distill 1000 liters of spirit.  I never got to taste the final product that day unfortunately, but Dawn and Roger had a stable full of other equally enticing treats up their sleeves for me to try.

Dawn and Rog founded their distillery on their gorgeous farm Versailles, in the heart of Wellington, and it is from here that Rog first grew and nurtured the Chenin Blanc grapes that feature in his pot still Savingnac brandy.  The brandy is made in the typical cognac style, is twice distilled in a traditional copper pot still and matured for a minimum of 10 years in French oak.  I tasted the brandy in its 13th year, and it was surprisingly smooth yet incredibly complex and rich. Exotic spices, molasses, chocolate and sandalwood all come through on the nose, and the palate is just as delightful.  We tasted the Savingnac accompanied by local handmade chocolate truffles filled with a rich ganache center.  A sip of brandy, swirled in the mouth and swallowed, a bite of chocolate, letting the chocolate linger on your tongue while taking another sip of brandy, letting the two do a little dance inside your mouth… Sheer heaven!  What’s interesting is how the flavour of the brandy changes when you have the chocolate in your mouth.  It becomes nuttier, spicier & more bold in flavour. An absolute joy to encounter.

The Savingnac was Dawn and Rog’s initial venture, but it was going to take the better part of a decade and then some to yield anything near desirable in Roger’s opinion, so the couple decided to look into other boozy projects to pass the time while their beloved golden nectar aged. They didn’t have to look very far.  Organic lemons grown in the valley, organic spelt grown above the snowline in the Cederberg mountains, exotic African Grains of Paradise and a host of rare and mysterious herbs & spices that make up Roger’s acclaimed and authentic Field of Dreams Absinthe.

After a long stay in Italy, Rog and Dawn were captivated by limoncello, and  introduced the first product in their Naked range, using the organic lemons mentioned earlier, which rivals most of the Italian varieties I tasted during my travels to Amalfi and the rest of the Campania region in Italy. Rog and Dawn will also be extending the Naked range to include more fruity liqueurs, so look out for these on their website.

Launching in March 2011 is Jorgensen’s Gin, a fascinating blend of Macedonian juniper and Grains of Paradise (a peppery-flavoured spice grown for the Jorgensen’s as part of a community upliftment program in Ghana).  I’m super excited about tasting this one in particular, as I do fancy my gin!

Roger recently listed the Primitiv vodka and Naked limoncello with Pick n Pay’s flagship store PnP on Nicol in Johannesburg, which will be sold in their bottle store. It’s pretty clear that Jorgensen’s Distillery is going places, and I’m hard-pressed to find two other equally passionate people who are more deserving of having their products flourish as Roger and Dawn have!

Visit Jorgensen’s Distillery or contact them on 021 864 1777 or email Dawn on dawn@jd7.co.za for stockists around the country.

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