Jorgensen’s Distillery

March 19th, 2011 by karen

Since we were heading out of Cape Town to Wellington for the weekend an ideal occasion presented itself for us to visit Dawn and Roger Jorgensen at their historic farm Versailles, where they also operate their distillery (

View from the patio

They were so friendly on arrival and really went out of their way to make us feel at home – in theirs.  Several of their children were around and their cats took an instant liking to us as well (though this could have been due to the sushi on our table).

Dawn making us feel at home

Roger, is by no doubt as passionate about distillation as I am about wine! He kept us entertained and intrigued for 2 hours, and that was without a trip into the distillery. He explained how distillers have been run by large conglomerates for many years, but there is a slow move towards artisanal distillers and their expertise in creating unique specialist spirits.  This means making small quantities of high quality products each expressing the makers individuality.  Roger says “Artisanal distillers are hands-on specialists who transcend the gap between art and alchemy to create unique spirits for individuals.  They are also so proud of their handiwork they will find a way to deliver directly to you, if you don’t beat a path to their door first.”

To start us off we had a pairing of their Primitiv Vodka with various foods – all of which were chosen due to the individual characteristics they bring out in the vodka

Primitiv Vodka "pairings per sip"

Served directly from the freezer the vodka was delightful drinking on a exceptionally warm day.  Roger explained how this specific product is made from Spelt, which was “extinct” in South Africa for some time. They now organically grow theirs in the high Cederburg.  One of the pairings was smoked salmon and roe, or a lovely hand crafted cheese with atchar, both served on bread made from Spelt.  Other choices were sushi, gherkins and dried, cured sausage

Uniquely numbered "dog tags" on each bottle

Next up we tried their Limoncello.  Do not be put off by sweet substitutes or home-made examples you may have tried in the past!  This delightful, light and refreshing drink, aptly called Naked Lemon, is made using zest and naturally macerated organic lemons and lightly sweetened with home made cane syrup to balance the flavours.  This gorgeously vibrant 30% alcohol bottle had me hooked

Naked Lemon Limoncello

We moved onto the 1999 Savingnac Potstill Brandy, which was my hubby’s choice of the day as he often enjoys a Cognac at the end of an evening. I’ve tasted several Brandy’s during my years on the wine industry but none appealed to me as much as this one did.  Its silken, yet intense mouth fell offered much complexity of vanilla, raisin, nuts, spiciness, chocolate and marmalade from its 12 years spent maturing in oak barrels

1999 Savingnac Potstill Brandy

We ended on a tongue tipping 72% alcohol Absinthe which is not for the faint-hearted!  Field of Dreams is forest green in colour literally depicting the herbs and wormwood which make up its contents.  Various ways which should be used to consume it were discussed including dripping iced water over a spoon of sugar into the Absinthe

Field of Dreams Absinthe

All of these products are made in very limited quantities and mainly available in the Western Cape at this stage (with some availability in Gauteng).  The easiest is to purchase on-line, or much more wisely, make an appointment to go and visit them in Wellington.  I realise how much I have to learn about the distillation process and am certainly keen to take guests their in the future.  I need to taste their newly released Gin after all:)

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