Never before has taking medicine seemed so sweet. Gin, I am told, was originally made by monks as a treatment for gout. Tonic was added later in the fight against malaria.
In a recent development, continuing the elevation of G and T from thirst quenching entertainment to life-enhancing elixir, it has been infused with the Cape’s famous fynbos. Add a twist of lemon or orange zest and you might well live forever!
I have (at least some of) this information on no less of an authority than Lorna Scott, the distiller at Inverroche.
Our hopes, standards and expectations heightened after a sensational night at Hog Hollow in Plettenberg Bay we took a chance and dropped in unannounced at Inverroche, a boutique distillery at the confluence of the Goukou River and the Indian Ocean in Stilbaai.
And this chance turned out to be a fine thing! At Inverroche we were treated to an hour and a half of tasting and talking with Lorna. She told us how to pour the perfect gin and tonic, and how to taste the various elements as the magical (healing) liquid tingles and buzzes on different parts of the tongue.
This alchemist gave us a lesson in history and a little botany, as well as a full dose of tradition as she shared some of her personal journey to becoming a distiller.
While the various elixirs slipped down our throats, promising to wash away our woes, Lorna told us something about coming upon an ancient stil in Scotland, lovingly coaxing it back to life, bringing it back to South Africa and putting it to work.
Then it was time to taste her rum! Spicey, Xmasy flavours warmed our mouths and throats as we heard about a never-ending journey through the Cape Floral Kingdom to discover new tastes and textures to add to the potions that make up Inverroche’s range of iconic spirits.
The story of Inverroche is gorgeously intertwined with the story of the Cape. The fynbos is a unique life force and has been used for centuries by the indigenous people as well as all later arrivals for healing, sustenance, comfort and protection.
Now Lorna Scott and her husband Michael are combining innovation and tradition to make a delicious and distinctly South African range of products. They are careful to integrate their business into the natural fabric of the environment and local people. Production is done on a small scale and everything is recycled.
In a giant step up from the old Durban remedy, ‘cane for the pain’, I am using the Inverroche gin (Verdant is my favourite one) to add flavour, colour (and perhaps even vitality) to my life.