One shot thunder-and-lightning please

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1st Principles brandy

More specifically, the unadulterated 1st Principles brandies. A snifter of one of these single-cask, barrel-strength numbers is the drink of heroes, bound to warm the cockles and soothe the spirit.

Smooth and elegant, the five-year-old VS and VSOP brandies come at 60 – 70% strength, while the four-year-old single-barrel is diluted with Cederberg soetwater to 40% strength.

Owner and distiller Joubert Roux explained, “Brandy is typically a natural process. Which is why I don’t modify our brandies. In fact, maturation and the oak casks have by far the biggest impact. Thus, every barrel is unique.”

The 1st Principles firewater range has a tantalising breadth of style and application:

  • A rich gold colour, pecan nut, yellow apple and apricots mingle merrily on the palate in the single-barrel brandy, finishing sweetly.
  • With a wonderful whiff of green pistachio nuts and raisins, the straw-gold VSOP is ever-so drinkable with lovely litchi on the palate and nutty notes on the finish.
  • Complex nutty-coffee dominates the nose of the VS. It glides over the palate with almond undertones, resolving with dusty-nutty notes on the finish.

Brandy has become a broader church than merely one for connoisseurs. While traditionalists prefer to cosy up with a VSOP after dinner, brandy mixology is all the rage. Try the VS with some fizz in a highball, or a racy brandy cocktail. Must just say, a Vieux Carré is simply primo.

To sample the 1st Principles brandies, drop in for a wickedly good full-frills tasting in the bamboo forest at Groenhoek farm near Vredendal.

1st Distilleries, Groenhoek Farm, R362, Vredendal; or buy online www.1stdistilleries.co.za