Dutch, EnglishShow more Etymology unknown; perhaps from Dutch Kaap Cape + smaak taste; or Cape + English smoke, alluding to the spirit’s cloudy colour. Cf. U.S. slang, smoke ‘cheap (home-made) liquor’ (early 1900s).
obs. except in historical contexts
A rough brandy made during the 19th century of either peaches or grapes; Kaapse smaak, see Kaapse sense 3.See also Cape brandy.
[1821T. Pringle Letter. 12 JuneThe best [wine] produced on the frontier at present I fear could not appear on his board. It is all deeply tainted with the vile Kaap smaak.]
[1834T. PringleAfr. Sketches 515Some of the lighter Cape wines are occasionally found of good quality and agreeable flavour, though seldom altogether free of the earthy taste, or Kaap smaak, which seem peculiar to the soil or climate.]
1846H.H. MethuenLife in Wilderness 232Already in imagination were they revelling in the luxuries of Cape smoke, or brandy, and sheep-tail fat.
1850J.D. Lewins Diary. 16 Oct.Feel slightly seedy from the glasses of Cape brandy I drank yesterday at Whitehead’s. Cape Smoke does not agree with me. It is wretched stuff,..& sickens both head and stomach.
a1858J. GoldswainChron. (1946) I. 36I did not stop at this place Long for thear was to much Cape Smoke.
1862Lady Duff-GordonLett. from Cape (1925) 117‘Cape Smoke’ (brandy, like vitriol) ninepence a bottle.
1878T.J. LucasCamp Life & Sport 36In the way of spirit, there is Cape smoke, a coarse kind of peach brandy with something of the character of gin, with a raisin’y flavour, a very rank spirit.
1892J.E. RitchieBrighter S. Afr. 53The following recipe for the manufacture of ‘Cape Smoke’..is not an exaggeration, but carefully followed by some of the most enterprising brandy traders in the colony: Quarter of a pound vitriol, two ounces of Cayenne pepper, half a roll of Boer Tobacco, water ad libitum, and flavoured to taste.
1900H.C. HillegasOom Paul’s People 297Cape Smoke, the name given to a liquor made in Cape Colony, is credited with the ability to kill a man before he has taken the glass from his lips.
1900Daily News (U.K.) 11 Apr. 3The poisonous ‘Cape Smoke’, or ‘tanglefoot’, which they (sc. soldiers) get in too great abundance out here.
1936C. BirkbyThirstland Treks 172A glass of ‘Cape smoke’ — the fiercest brandy that ever came from a still.
1968L.G. GreenFull Many Glorious Morning 223I made inquiries about ‘Cape smoke’ and found..that it was enshrined in South African literature. Hans Sauer described it as ‘the most pernicious drink on earth’.
1976B. RobertsKimberley 85Down-at-heel diggers could be seen reeling out of them (sc. canteens) at all hours of the day, blind drunk of a vicious cheap brandy known as ‘Cape Smoke’.
1983D. Hughes et al.Complete Bk of S. Afr. Wine 93Cape Smoke was made from the wet mash of husks, pips and stalks which remained after the fermented must of the grapes had been run off in the traditional process of wine making.
1991Flying Springbok May 105The rough ‘fire water’ which passed as brandy, also referred to in those days as Cape Smoke, was good enough for soldier, sailor, worker and servant.
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