Nestled at the foot of the superbly rehabilitated Bain’s Kloof Pass is a sparkling little gem not to be missed if you’re headed to the Breede Valley. Just one and a half hours from Cape Town, SA’s first off-grid distillery is a breath of fresh air in the stifling summer heat.
Built on the banks of the Breede River, with a magnificent view of the Waaihoek Mountain range, Monks Distillery’s tasting room offers tasting boards which include all three of their gins, a small but spectacular cocktail menu and a charcuterie platter for two that would impress even the most discerning foodies.
Getting into the details, MONKS is a dry gin, handcrafted and double-distilled in small batches using a hybrid artisanal still called “Jennifer”, named after distiller Nic’s mother and of his own design.
Expect intensely flavour-forward botanicals, nine of them hand-picked and many endemic to the area. Combine with crystal-clear mountain waters and the result is a rewarding one, featuring ripples of citrus, berries and Cape Buchu.
While MONKS makes no claims whatsoever as to the health benefits of their gins, the key ingredients in each make for interesting reading:
Mysterium is infused with, among other things, the herb Sceletium, a natural mood enhancer sometimes referred to as the “pathway to the gods”. Medella features blueberries, grown on the farm and well known as a vitamin-rich superfood high in antioxidants; while Mary Jane is endowed with hemp, widely accepted as a miracle plant.
The cocktails have been carefully crafted to highlight these magical ingredients and are delightfully diverse to include something for all palates. The “Bad Habit” is an irresistibly refreshing ray of summer sunshine, made using MONKS Mysterium, cucumber, lemon and mint that will have you coming back again and again.
The “SuziBlue” made using blueberries grown on the farm with hints of ginger, lemon and MONKS Medella is as delicious as it is beautiful. For those who like it hot, look no further than the “Spicey Monkarita”, a perfect combination of sweet and spicy combining Jalapeño chillies, MONKS Mary Jane, Cointreau and lime juice.
But it’s the MONKS’ take on a prohibition-era cocktail called the “Bee’s Knees” that is their crowning glory. The “CBD’s Knees”, using honey, lemon and MONKS Mary Jane with a dash of CBD, is what may keep you at the riverside staring at the view for much longer than anticipated.
So the next time you’re planning a day trip, head to the Breede and experience a taste of something gratifyingly glorious. The good news for those travelling with furry friends is that dogs are most welcome.
The tasting room is open between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday and from 11.30am to 6pm on Saturdays. For large groups, bookings are preferable and can be made via WhatsApp on 082 563 7244.
Click here to find out more on their website.
Picture: DNA Photographers