Tungi is the local St Helenian name for the prickly or cactus pears. The plants (Opuntia vulgaris) were originally brought to the island by the colonial ivory traders from East Africa in the 1850′s. Three varieties of Tungi cactus now grow wild and organically on the dry coastal regions of the island.
Tungi spirit was first developed on St Helena as ‘prickly pear whisky’ from the 1850, but now using the most modern distilling techniques, and using a blend of two principal varieties of Tungi Paul has produced the optimum flavour of today’s Tungi product which is ideal both for straight shot-drinking and for cocktails and combinations like the ‘Jamestown Mule’ and ‘Holdfast Tom’
The making of Tungi Cactus Pear Spirit begins in the month of March, when freelance fruit pickers commence the 3-month harvesting season, selecting only the ripest prickly pear fruits from the island’s widespread cactus-growing hillsides.
After distillation, ‘Tungi’ is chilled, filtered, diluted, tested for consistency and strength, and finally bottled in the drinks industry’s most unique container –the ‘Jacob’s Ladder Flask’, a representation of St Helena Island’s famous Jacobs Ladder landmark which is the world’s longest straight staircase, rising over 1000ft up a sheer cliff above the distillery to the defences on the cliff top above.
Tungi is a clear smooth spirit, refreshing and palatable drink of genuine Tungi flavour whilst retaining the robust power and alcoholic strength of the original!
"Jamestown Mule" In a Highball Glass, gently muddle 3 fresh Mint leaves with 10ml of Gomme sugar syrup; add 50ml of Tungi and 25ml of freshly squeezed lime juice. Fill up the glass with ice and top up with good quality ginger beer, gently stir to distribute the mint leaves through the drink and serve.
"Holdfast Tom”: Into a Boston glass pour 25ml of Tungi, 15ml of Ginger Syrup, 15ml of squeezed lime juice, then 35ml of Tapatio Blanco Tequila (known for its peppery flavour)and 25ml of Apple Juice. Fill with ice, gently shake, single strain in a Martini glass, garnish with an apple fan with a thin slice of ginger rolled on top.
By Matthias Lataille formerly of Green & Red