*Disclaimer: I didn’t explore the entire Garden Route; in fact, I barely scratched the surface, but I want to share my experiences so that every time I read this I remember one of the most restful holidays I’ve ever had.*
Stilbaai. A small coastal town just off the N2 between George and Cape Town. A little town with so much to offer, so get there early and make a day of it.
I was staying with a friend in Riversdale, and the closest beach – one town over – was Stilbaai. So on the way back after he picked me up from George airport, we decided to stop by for a stroll on the beach. At the time (September 2016) there were rather expansive roadworks underway, which led to some periods of delay as only one lane was open, but we were in no hurry and we got there in no time at all.
There are all these interesting places on the road from the N2 to Stilbaai itself: Botterkloof Estate – a visit to their coffee shop next to the dam where ducks happily swim around is a must – and the Inverroche Distillery. Okay, there are other places too, but these are the two I visited.
In case you aren’t aware of what Inverroche is, it is a gin brand that has been making headlines all over the world, because they incorporate fynbos from the area into their gin. They use fynbos from three different areas, resulting in three unique gins:
- Inverroche Classic – made with limestone fynbos
- Inverroche Verdant – infused with mountainous fynbos
- Inverroche Amber – a woody gin distilled with coastal fynbos
Every day at 13:00 you can go on a distillery tour (booking essential) to learn some of the background of the distillery, and of course, indulge in a little tasting session.
Now I’m not a big fan of gin. I’ll admit that a good gin and tonic on a hot summer day can be wonderful, and I love dry gin martinis, but yes, given a choice I’m most likely going to go for a beer. That said, the tasting session made me reconsider. Each of the variants were tried neat, with a sliver of citrus peel, and with tonic water. In a group of five on the tour, I was the only one who liked the Inverroche Verdant the most, paired with lemon peel and tonic water. A poll among my colleagues indicated that Inverroche Amber is the most popular choice though.
After the tasting you can of course buy some gin at the distillery, as well as the seven-year aged rum they produce. You will also find glassware and gin jam (in two sizes and two flavours: strawberry and kumquat) on sale.
And while I didn’t buy any for myself (some lucky people will get jam and one person will receive a bottle of Inverroche Amber gin), I did leave with the correct ratio for a perfect G&T: one part gin to four parts tonic water.
So after a morning of hopeful whale watching – if you’re luck and patient; Stilbaai has a great lookout point – maybe visit the Inverroche Distillery to stock up for summer sundowners.
For more info and activities along the Garden Route, download the Garden Route and Klein Karoo app.