No trip to Wellington is complete without a visit to Jorgensen’s Distillery. Situated on Versailles Farm in Regent Street in the heart of the town, it’s one of those places where time seems to stand for a while, despite the bustle of country life outside.
Versailles is home to “Still Man” Roger Jorgensen and his family and two gorgeous, exuberant pittbulls who make wonderful ambassadors for the breed, proving once again that there are no bad dogs, ever, only bad bad owners.
But back to Versailles, home of finely handcrafted spirits with understatedly elegant packaging: Think moonshine and mampoer and the prohibition. Add to the alchemy an impressive apothecary from a sleepy shed where Roger keeps his potion ingredients to a modern day legal setting. Add a lazy and slightly neglected vineyard to the backdrop and you have all the necessary imagery to conjure up this delightful distillery in your mind’s eye.
Roger is that passionate about his craft he should bottle his enthusiasm too while he’s at it. It was inspirational to see that he’s as at home in his small outdoor plant nursery as he is making potstill brandy, vodka or Field of Dreams, Jorgensen’s unusual handcrafted organic absinthe, a combination of colouring herbs and flavoured spirits.
He also makes a damn good cocktail despite his protestations about being terrible at it. Mine was a Nordic Snapper, his adult version of the ubiquitous Bloody Mary. I thought I was opting for the healthy, vegetarian option considering it was mid morning, but be warned, this drink has a kick like a Platteland donkey – which isn’t surprising considering the alcohol content of the aquavit – that spirit our Nordic forefathers warm their bones with in winter. After drinking half, it felt more like I’d ordered Thor’s Hammer, another aptly named drink from Roger’s cocktail list that tries to disguise its potency, this time under the guise of a cucumber puree base. I’d suggest booking a B&B in town when you visit, just to be safe :-) Then you can also linger longer.
My Nordic Snapper
The still – where it all happens
Love at first sight – Tuscan, ambassador of my absolute favourite breed (sorry Schalk, Mom still loves you) Simplicity – in the table decorations and the snacks and the whole Jorgensen operation.
At least the lemongrass swizzle sticks were non-alcoholic, as was the home-made lemonade.