Australia’s passion for food and wine, combined with our contemporary, cutting-edge interpretations of the world’s best cuisines, embraces every aspect of the dining ritual. One area that can too often be a little under the radar, however, is the postprandial digestif. When the night’s done, that after-dinner small snifter is a reward for your culinary efforts and social skills. It settles the mind and the spirit - and the stomach too. And, speaking of spirits, there’s a spirituous drink for every taste come evening’s end.
Talisker 10YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Whisky is basically distilled beer, but what a transformation. From the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, Talisker malt whisky is made with water from a peat spring, thus adding to the peaty, smoky complexity of this outstanding spirit. Iodine and a seawater-like tang combine with malted barley depth, making a rounded yet cleansing distillation. No wonder the Vikings used to land at Talisker all those years ago… It’s also incredibly good value for 10 year old whisky.
St Agnes XO 15 Year Old Brandy
Australian Brandy has a long tradition and its finest proponent is St Agnes, made by winemaker Angoves. It compares to the world's best cognacs with alacrity, and is very keenly priced. Multi-award winning, it has the deep kumquat marmalade fruit qualities and sherry-like notes required, but there’s no distortion from overt oak barrel use. It’s splendidly balanced. Keep one at home. Australian brandy is something we should all be more proud of.
Courvoisier VS Cognac
Grown and made in the Grande Champagne region north of Bordeaux, this very floral and lifted Cognac has the sort of easy confidence that comes from long ageing - indeed, Courvoisier is aged for at least two years more than many other Cognac brands. Its lighter front palate is corrected at palate’s end with a warm lick of alcohol. Pot-distilled twice, it’s made from otherwise ignoble grapes that - like the ugly duckling - become a beautiful swan via distillation and barrel ageing.
Delord 1985 Armagnac
Only 130kms down the road from Cognac, Armagnac is made in column stills, and distilled only once. It’s higher in alcohol than Cognac, and is usually sold by vintage year. Armagnac is also more fruity - more typical of the grapes from which it originally came. And it is more toffeed and caramel than Cognac. It can have a long, long aftertaste, but being only once distilled it is a more charmingly rustic drink than Cognac. Armagnac is for cigars; Cognac for contemplation.
Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum
If your tastes move more towards richer spirits, then the underlying sugar, spice and mixed candied peel bouquets and flavours of rum will be your thing. Appleton is the oldest rum distillery in Jamaica. The Signature Blend has up to 15 different base rums added, with a relatively young maturation age of four years. This makes it perky and bold, and just as likely to keep the night going than not. It works well over ice with a wedge of lime, but for digestif purposes serve it straight.
Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
Finally, if a retro blast-from-the-past is what you need after dinner, what’s more ABBA than a Baileys Irish Cream? Sipped with coffee, or poured into coffee, this is a grownup lollie that suits mixed drinks and ice as much as it does a nightcap glass. With Baileys, one is never enough, but two is too many.