On a recent trip to Tanzania, my friend bought back with her a bottle of Konyagi, or ‘fire water’. Intrigued by this i googled what i could find on Konyagi (the back of the bottle was of no help due to what i presume was written in an African language) and came up with the following –
INGREDIANT: Molasses, Spices and flavorings
AGE: Not Applicable
It mentions how its rum flavoured and also described as a liquor so i presume it could be classed with spirits like Drambuie.
Anyway once opened a medicinal yet a slightly more gin smelling aroma hit me with some floral hints edging in there too. Its taste went down rather surprisingly quite smooth with only a hint of a ‘fire edge’ and gave your mouth and throat a slow tingle as it makes its way. This was definitely not what i expected ‘fire water’ to be like and i agree with what the link (posted above) recommends to have this spirit apart of (Mojito or Caipirinha) – it wouldn’t over power any of the other ingredients. I can see it being rather mellow, almost like your average white rum in a way with just that distinctive hint of fire to let you know your drinking something different.
Again a friend of mine came back from the island of Cyprus with a bottle of Cypriot ‘fire water’ or Ouzo. Attached to it a nifty 25ml shot glass with Cyprus emblazoned on it adds to the collection nicely! With no back label i once again had a quick search to see what came up, with a more varied result compared to the Konyagi. Ouzo is apparently a popular aperitif in both Cyprus and Greece and is consumed neat or with water and is served ice-cold. Now i have to admit, i didn’t taste mine ice-cold after only reading about this after i had tasted it, but i will freeze it over night, try it again and let you all know if there is any difference.
Its aromas of aniseed had the thoughts of Sambuca running through my head and indeed the taste does bode similar to that of the Italian aperitif. A slight mouth-watering effect hits you as it travels through your mouth, which you don’t really get with the Konyagi. However, Ouza feels a lot more raw and stripped down with a bigger kick of fire as its after-taste.
Now if i had to choose between the two, Konyagi would be my choice. Yes Ouzo backs up its ‘fire water’ tag better than Konyagi does but there is a lot more choice with what you can do with the Tanzanian spirit. Its easy drinking and you could get through a 200ml bottle with a lot more ease than you would Ouzo.