Here are some gins we’ve tasted in the recent few months. We’re always looking for that very special One that stands out in flavour, smoothness, yet not losing that all important juniper taste. We’ve put stamps in our passport for the following gins and you should too!
Our Top 10 Favourite Gins
We are still in the process of finalising our Top 10 Favourite Gins for 2019 but in the meantime, have a look at the finalists:
THE MONKS STORY For over a decade, serial entrepreneurs and self-confessed adventurers Nic and Di Davis have shared a farm with fifth-generation Breede Valley wine farmers Coenie and Edelgard Lategan. In late 2017 the friends decided to bring their vast and varied experience to the realm of independent gin distilling. MONKS gins are handcrafted and double-distilled in small batches using a hybrid artisanal still called ‘Jennifer’, named after Nic’s mother and of Nic’s own design. Expect intensely flavour-forward botanicals, nine of them hand-picked and many endemic to the area. Combine with crystal-clear mountain waters and the result is a rewarding one, featuring ripples of citrus, berries and Cape Buchu.
Harmony Honeybush Gin is made by distilling 9 carefully selected botanicals in small batches using a technique called vapour infusion. This technique allows the alcohol vapours to pass over the botanicals, condensing the complex aromas and flavours to form a fresher, more delicate tasting gin. A percentage of unaged gin is then married over several days, with the finest honeybush tea leaves, mixed back together and rested, enriching the texture to transform it into a delicate amber-hued gin.
The Old Packhouse Distillery is situated on a farm near Tzaneen in South Africa and produces artisanal Gin. Only the finest ingredients are used in our handcrafted small batch gin. Our gin exemplifies country living
Welcome to the website of Deep South Distillery. We are the newest, most southerly craft distillery on the Cape Peninsula and specialise in small batch, hand-crafted spirits made with love, care and pride. We offer tastings, distillery tours and sales, and invite you to pay us a visit, but please help us by making an appointment or phoning first, as we may be hard at work distilling or bottling delectable spirits for your enjoyment. We are also open for private tastings and events in the evenings, and offer a range of other activities.
Phantom Craft is a small company of individuals who create unique spirits & products of the handcrafted kind. Based in the coastal town of Knysna in the Western Cape of South Africa. We started Phantom Craft with the hope to create spirits that are aesthetically unique and carefully crafted to offer flavours that pay homage to their origins. All our products are created in-house from concept and design to recipe development. We distill our spirits with Hope on Hopkins Distillery in Cape Town.
Angel Heart Beverages was born out of a passion for creative and extraordinary alcoholic products. Only the best ingredients, botanical and equipment ensure an absolute bespoke product. A liquor with integrity and soul. The magic in each bottle is a result of an alchemical process, a mix of ingredients, love and patience. Our goal is that every consumer enjoy the tasting experience as much as we love making the products.
SILVER CREEK CRAFT DISTILLERY is an artisanal distillery tucked away in an old mine building in Randfontein, Gauteng. The state of the art facility has taken over two years of planning, study, sweat and tears to build and is now Africa’s largest dedicated MOONSHINE DISTILLERY. Our SOUTHERN MOONSHINE is hand made in small batches and each bespoke bottle is numbered and personally signed by the master distiller. The owners – Mark and Sharon Taverner are “hands on” in the distillery with Mark controlling product development and production and Sharon controlling the bottling, labelling and despatch. Our SOUTHERN MOONSHINE is made from carefully selected South African grains, including white and yellow corn, crushed wheat and malted barley – this classic “BOURBON/ WHISKEY” mash is cooked and then fermented for several days and then triple distilled to produce a fine CLEAR MOONSHINE. This fine clear grain spirit is then blended and flavoured to produce an award winning range of products that is authentic as it gets. At the recent Michelangelo International Wine and Spirit Awards, SILVER CREEK CRAFT DISTILLERY won no less than 5 awards, - a double gold for CLEAR SHINE, gold awards for the APPLE PIE, SALTED CARAMEL and BON FIRE and silver for the CHOCOLATE.
On the slopes of Summerfields estate, nestled between stretches of lush subtropical vegetation, lies our bountiful litchi orchard. Hot, humid summers with thunderous rainstorms create the ideal climate needed to produce the sweet florallike flavours characteristic to the litchi fruit. Duke is an exotically fragrant gin - traditional and tropical botanicals are gradually infused during distillation to produce a balance between sweet, fresh hints of rose, ginger and honey, and grounded, earthy tones of juniper berries and macadamia. Our forever-faithful companion, Duke the Vizsla, reminds us that persistence and consistency are key to producing the perfect gin, every time. Best served with tonic, ice, vanilla and sage.
A floral gin inspired by the resurgence of traditional gin, our hope is to share a distinctively Cape Town made, crafted product with the world. Thanks to rich wine traditions running through our heritage, South Africa has recently unearthed a world class distilling culture. Sugarbird gin takes flight off the back of this spirited craft trend, showcasing not only the local distilling mastery but the indigenous ingredients and creativity growing at the heart of this movement..
As gin lovers we often found ourselves debating the merits (and demerits) of the gins we tried and our collective curiosity led us to try uncover more about this wonderful drink. However, even in today’s world of instant information at one’s fingertips, gin making remains a bit of a mystery. How is it made, what flavours do different botanicals impart, what strength is it distilled at, should it be macerated…? The more we uncovered the more interested we became until we came to the realisation that we simply had to apply all this knowledge in a direct and meaningful way by making our own gin. Our second and even more profound realisation was that we didn’t simply want to make a few bottles for our own consumption. We wanted to share our vision of everything a good gin embodies with South Africa.
HUSTLE SIGNATURE GIN Our goal is to produce exquisite fine gins that will stand the test of time. We created our Signature Hustle gin in 2017 - a sophisticated, contemporary, award-winning, fine dry botanical gin, using bespoke copper stills with 40% ABV. An utterly sublime gin bursting with traditional botanicals, Hustle is smooth on the palate, with a hint of sweet basil and pear on the finish, leaving you with a taste of summer... Crafted by an award-winning distillery in small limited batches of just 250 bottles at a time, every part of the process is checked by hand, making it a true artisan gin.
Posboom is a micro distiller who creates amazing Gin, Mampoer, Witblits and liqueur products in the heart of Mosselbay. Posboom Gin tasting bar is at Fearless Coffee shop for the season in Mosselbay.
This award-winning Gin was conceptualised in 2015 by three food and drinks industry specialists, focused on bringing a liquid to life that is refreshing and delicious, yet layered with the warmth of selected spices. Bloedlemoen (pronounced ‘Blue’d Le Moon’) is a quintessentially South African gin made from the delicious Tarocco Blood Orange, and proudly boasts as the first Blood Orange Gin in the World. The fruit is sourced locally from our growing partners in the Western Cape of South Africa. A contemporary, London Dry-style Gin distilled using 10 botanicals through a combination of maceration and vapour infusion. The result is a premium, small batch gin that cuts no corners when it comes to quality and consistency. It contains no less than ten natural botanicals: Juniper, Blood Orange, Orange Peel, Grains of Paradise, Coriander, Cassia, Nutmeg, Liquorice Root, Angelica Root and Nutmeg. When pouring the perfect serve for any gin, it’s best to start at the ingredients itself as partners – in our case a slice of orange (fresh or dried) and a cinnamon stick (or piece of cassia bark) does the trick perfectly. But most importantly, a premium tonic. Expect citrus and juniper on the nose, nutmeg and cassia on the palate and a lingering blood orange aftertaste, from where it got its name. The label was beautifully brought to life through the internationally renowned local miniatures artist, Lorraine Loots. A piece of art we found so beautiful, we decided to add nothing else to it.
Unusually flavoured gins, stretching the palate whilst still being a gin. The Art Deco theme of the label takes us to a bygone era. Small batch and genuine craft. So I invite you to join us and have some serious fun.
International award winning Blind Tiger Gin has been recognized for its unique celebration of the craft gin spirit. Blind Tiger is a THREE-TIME INTERNATIONAL GOLD MEDAL WINNER having won gold at the International SIP AWARDS, held in California (USA), The Gin Masters, held in London (UK) and most recently the San Francisco Spirits Competition! Blind Tiger Gin takes inspiration and influence from around world – while aligning itself with the historic Plymouth Gin style. At 46% ABV, and along with its higher than usual root botanical infusion, Blind Tiger Gin yields an exciting one of kind drinking experience. A fresh and exciting nose with a medley of angelica root and coriander, allows for the soft nuance of juniper berries in the background. On the palate, Blind Tiger gin is smooth, full-bodied with an ever so slight sweetness. Leading finally, to a fresh and vibrant citrus finish, provided by hints of lemongrass and passionflower. Nose: fresh, crisp and exciting aroma Palate: Extremely smooth, full-bodied with a slight sweetness Finish: Fresh, vibrant and aromatic provided by exotic lemongrass and passionflower
As the pioneers of South African craft gin, Inverroche Distillery was founded by Lorna Scott and her family. Growing from strength to strength in the local community of Still Bay in the Western Cape of Southern Africa. In just 6 years, the distillery has grown from a small home industry to a flourishing and pioneering craft distillery. A distillery that is invested in its community and producing world class gins and spirits.
Master Distiller Rolf brings an influx from the German Black Forest, where fruits and wine are distilled for centuries and the knowledge is passed between the generations. Like every passionate craftsman he is driven by a passion for ingredients and location. Foraging ingredients in the fields and digging in the African soil are constant exploration habits along the search for the perfect sip to be shared with friends and the fellow-minded.
What started out as a hobby has turned into a passion. They say every brewer wants to grow up to be a distiller and this has certainly proved true with the creation of Blossom & Hops craft gin. Years of home brewing in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs gave Trouvaille’s Blossom & Hops craft gin creator Tim James a special appreciation of the hops flower, a botanical that featured in century-old Genever recipes, the forefather of modern gin as we know it. When he started dabbling with a pot still he set out to re-introduce this botanical into the mainstream gin palate and with the help of his partner Teresa this has been achieved with Blossom & Hops craft gin. Hops is traditionally a flavouring and stabilising agent in the production of beer but Tim realised that due to its versatility and massively diverse flavour profiles it would work in gin. Countless experimental infusions later; a lucky find – a pairing that celebrates the earthiness of hops and the charm of lime blossom. A match made in heaven and a traditional gin which is both unique but unmistakably delicious.
To us, creating Gin is not just about the handpicked botanicals, or our custom designed copper still, or the molecular technology we use to protect the delicate flowers used in the Gin. It is about waking up every day and loving what we do. It’s about setting out to make the finest gin we can, one batch at a time. It is about creating something extraordinary. Something to be proud of. That’s who we are.
Maurice Boon Musgrave, grandfather of founder Simone Musgrave, left Plymouth in 1949 bound for Africa to start a new life exploring and discovering the people and land of Africa. Three months on a ship with a small baby, a measles outbreak and many a day of seasickness and the adventure that would change the shape of his family had begun. From then onward an African family would take on the adventure Maurice had started. The spirit of endevour, adventure and courage lives on in granddaughter, Simone, guardian of Maurice's passion for the unusual. Musgrave Gin is no ordinary spirit - it is an artisan gin celebrated for its top notes of Cardamom, African Ginger and Grains of Paradise.
Distilled in small batches by Johnny Neill, a direct descendant of Thomas Greenall and the last in a long line of distillers, Whitley Neill brings together 8 generations of expertise and a life-long love of adventure. The result is an inimitable, award-winning gin that skilfully blends and balances rare African botanicals and unusual aromatics, to create an enigmatic experience to savour
The sweet and sun-ripened essence of ClemenGold, SA’s leading mandarin, now treats gin aficionados to a classic Cape Dry style gin with subtle hints of citrus. Nine botanicals – with sundried ClemenGold peels taking the flavour lead – are used when distilling this superb gin in the heart of Cape Town. ClemenGold and orange peel, cinnamon, honey, ground almond, juniper berries, angelica and orris root, and coriander are macerated and vapour-infused. Excellent in a refreshing gin and tonic; the number one choice for any number of classic gin cocktails … or try sipping it served on ice with a twist of orange (or ClemenGold, in season), or a cinnamon stick.
Out of the obscure backlands of the Free State, a country of blue skies and an abundance of sorghum, a whimsical yet serious distillery was born. De Vry Distillery was founded by the Du Plooy brothers on the desire to produce a range of 100% farm-grown spirits. From Rum to Vodka and the Gin in between, our range represents a blend of cultures and tastes any South African would be proud of. Just like joining in on an after-school sport just for gags only to find out you're really good at it, De Vry Distillery started as a fun initiative that soon became a meticulously crafted and truly authentic local distillery.
The following gins we haven’t been able to get our hands on yet, but rumour has it they are welcome at any party!
(If you are a distiller or distributor of these brands please get in contact with us on firstname.lastname@example.org)
This lively one-of-a-kind gin boasts a very well balanced assortment of herbs, spices and zest on the nose. On the palate, it reveals juniper berries, naartjie and Cape Fynbos herbs in stunning complexity. The Fynbos Gin is elegant enough to enjoy neat or in quality tonic water garnished with ripe pineapple chunks and fresh curry leaves
As distinctive as its elegant bottle, Wixworth is everything you expect of a finely crafted classic gin, and more. A beautifully balanced blend of the finest, hand-selected ingredients, Wixworth offers all the pleasures of a classic London Dry Gin along with a uniquely South African flavour that ensures it stands out from the crowd. In pursuit of perfection, Wixworth is artfully crafted in small batches from hand-picked, hand-selected botanicals, both traditional and unusual. The result is an exquisitely balanced, delicately fragranced gin that’s crisp and dry with a predominant juniper flavour, hints of spice and citrus notes.
Pienaar & Son is a small craft distillery in the centre of the Cape Town City Bowl. A stones throw from Parliament, at the end of a cul-de-sac our tiny distillery goes about its businessnding fresh ways of creating and introducing people to quality, modern spirits. Although we more than appreciate traditional methods and the history of distillation, the notion that ‘older is better’ could not be further from our opinionated truth. Our “Master Distiller” just entered his 30s, all our equipment is newly hand built locally and our processes are based off cutting edge nerdy engineering principles developed by the chemical engineering brains behind the operation. A father with more than 40 years of distilling technology experience and his stubborn son, hand crafting spirits with science and art, we believe in starting traditions, not following them.
Mayine Premium Gin is the first black owned gin brand/product in Africa. It is owned by Mr Luvuyo Jongile and Mrs Nodumo Jongile who are both gin enthusiasts for over 15 years. Their love for gin gave birth to Mayine, which means “let it rain”. Mayine produces two flavors of gin; The Grape Based and the Rooibos Infused. Which ever of the two you would prefer, you will find exceptional quality in either.
At Tygerkloof distillery, home to GINSMITH, we handcraft our gins in the time honoured, traditional way, using copper alembic stills, over flame. Our 300 litre still was handcrafted by village artisans in Portugal and named Bella Maria in honour of Maria the Jewess, the first recorded alchemist and designer of the first alembic still, around 2AD, in Alexandria, Egypt. It seemed apt that, as women distillers, our beautiful still should be named after her. GINSMITH gins are 'slow' gins, and from field to glass are infused with our relationship to every aspect of the product. We hand harvest botanicals from our immediate terroir - kapok, impepho and buchu (which only grows naturally here and on the mountains surrounding us.)
Black Horse Distillery is nestled in the Cradle of Humankind in the Magalies mountain range – among the oldest mountains in the world. The distillery was established in 2014 on the Black Horse family estate by Marius Bezuidenhout and Bernard Botha. They pride themselves on hand-crafting the purest Vodka and vapour-infused GIN from fresh mountain spring water.
The gin is handcrafted and batch distilled in an old copper kettle. Infused with 7 different botanicals, it brings a beautifully balanced palate with fresh notes of lemon zest and candied orange peel, pine needles and black pepper followed by earthy characters of fennel, dill, buchu and vanilla. All this is carried perfectly by the juniper, the signature gin botanical.
Besotted with gin, a lifelong urge to indulge our creative minds and after a yearlong research project on the craft distilling industry, two misfits – Mike Sayers and Jayde Maasdorp – left a combined corporate life of nearly 40 years, jumped on the bandwagon and launched South Africa’s first Old Tom Gin in December 2016.
HOPE ON HOPKINS
Welcome to the home of Hope on Hopkins, the Mother City’s first artisanal distillery, in the heart of industrial Salt River. Note that the Distillery Tasting Room is open only on Saturday afternoons, between 12 and 5pm. Ex-lawyers and partners Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk toil and play to bring you handcrafted spirits packed full of new flavours and an interesting range of botanicals, made by using the age old process of batch distillation with their faithful stills – Mildred, Mouma and Maude, named after the couple’s grandmothers, and the latest addition to the team the beautiful copper pot still, Mad Mary. Their dedication to their craft and respectful handling of carefully sourced quality ingredients culminates in their three Hope on Hopkins Gins: the classic grain based London Dry Gin, the South African inspired Salt River Gin and the more experimental, savoury Mediterranean Gin, as well as a small batch vodka and their 100% agave spirit, Esperanza (which they’re not allowed to call Tequila). They also design, distil and produce gins for other brands, including Musgrave 11 and Musgrave Pink Gin, Clemengold Gin, the complex fynbos infused Southern Cross Gin, Blossom & Hops Gin, Giant Gin, the two A Mari Ocean Gins and Phantom Gin.
This is a story of an unforgiving, yet rich and fertile land. A noble product of the Karoo capturing the essence of the land and reflecting the character of the unique people that inhabit it. Black Mountain Gin pays tribute to the Swartberg Pass from where we gain our inspiration. The Swartberg mountains (black mountain in Afrikaans) are a mountain range in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is composed of two main mountain chains running roughly east-west along the northern edge of the semi-arid Little Karoo. To the north of the range lies the other large semi-arid area in South Africa, the Great Karoo. Most of the Swartberg Mountains are above 2000 m high, making them the tallest mountains in the Western Cape. It is also one of the longest, spanning some 230 km from south of Laingsburg in the west to between Willowmore and Uniondale in the east. Geologically, these mountains are part of the Cape Fold Belt. Making use of the finest ingredients offered to us by our surroundings. We produce unique gins distilled in a traditional Cape Pot Still used by a proud sixth generations of family distillers at Grundheim Craft Distillery.
Cruxland Gin is distilled by the KWV Spirits production team, under the watchful eye of Blending Manager Ilse du Toit in Paarl, South Africa – around 50 minutes outside of Cape Town. It features eight botanicals – aniseed, rooibos, lemon, coriander, honeybush, almond, juniper, cardamom and Kalahari truffles – and works hard to tell a South African tale.
The Woodstock Gin Company was founded in 2014 by Simon Von Witt, a passionate distiller of Fynbos infused South African gin. As his passion for creating new recipes and distilling alcohol grew, so did his desire to share the final product of these new and delicious creations with other people, and let them know that gin is so much more than Juniper berry-infused alcohol. our flagship gin Inception as the name alludes was our first gin to be sold publicly. Inception encapsulates our passion for gin making with a unique, elegantly smooth, herbaceous flavour that has subtle undertones of our fynbos blend, including rooibos, buchu and wild rosemary to name a few. our name Located at 399 Albert Road, adjacent to Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, our name follows on from the British trend of naming distilleries after the town or area in which they were built. It was thus decided to call our small yet highly productive distillery Woodstock Gin Co.
In crafting our gins we wanted to capture the essence of the Bushveld in a way that reflects its various aspects at their most sublime. From the immutability of of the landscape to the vibrancy of the life that lives upon it, we wanted to create a range of gins that captures and celebrates that hard-to-define experience that keeps us coming back to the wilds of Africa time and time again.
Autograph’s inspiration and identity lies in the rich, colourful history of a thousand years of gin making. Autograph is the embodiment of this timeless tradition, encapsulating years of passion, inspiration and discovery. Like the first bottles of gin painstakingly created by medieval monks, each bottle of Autograph is carefully crafted by hand. It’s unique taste is derived from the blended botanicals and fynbos carefully selected by it’s master distillers. Every drop is curated by hand, each sip is an expression of shared pleasure and passion - the finishing touch on the story of gin. Autograph, South Africa’s newest bespoke Gin distillery and bar, aspires to produce limited volumes of handmade and individually crafted premium spirit products. Distillery Road in Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch, was chosen as the perfect location for the distillery due to the area's unique history and world renowned reputation for pedigree of wine and spirits production. While Stellenbosch is renown as a wine growing region, it is also developing a reputation as an area for boutique spirits production. The unique blend of botanicals are grown on-site and handpicked by the distilling team, with the intention of creating a distinct fusion of tastes and scents. This is Africa’s most exclusive, premium dry gin. Why the name “Autograph”? The products are crafted with meticulous care and detail. It’s a brand that master craftsmen would be proud to attach their signature to. “Success is when your signature becomes an autograph”
Distillery 031 was founded in 2008 in Durban by Andrew Rall. The name Distillery 031 was chosen in reference to Durban’s dialing code. To Andrew Durban is a place of eclectic energy, amazing people, and a climate that is ripe with creative opportunities, a place that he wholeheartedly calls home. Andrew’s fascination with craft spirits took him to the UK, France, Norway, Brazil and the USA, where he explored very different approaches to spirits. The tiny but growing craft sprit movement, which mirrored the craft beer revolution, caught Andrew’s attention. Having perfected recipes for an initial range of spirits, Andrew had to decide whether distilling was going to be anything more than a hobby. It was an easy decision and so he began looking for a home for Distillery 031. “Station Drive was the perfect home for the distillery and complemented my vision for Distillery 031, which is to capture the essence of contemporary Durban in the spirits we produce … Durban Distilled.” Andrew Rall
The beginnings of gin dates to the 17th century where the Dutch thought it wise to infuse alcohol with Juniper berries, for medicinal purposes of course! The British troops then used this “medicine” to build some courage, which seem to have worked. The mid 1700 saw officials attempting to knock gin on the proverbial head, but there was no keeping down of a good thing and riots resorted order and the ample consumption continued to grow. At Durbanville Distillery there is a push to further refine the spirit that has seen civilization through troubling time over the last 300 years. The heritage of gin is retained whilst applying modern engineering innovation and unique distillation methods to produce a smooth, soft and fresh gin.
Long before craft gins became trendy, Louise van der Walt, a native pharmacist began researching the medicinal properties of the bossies. Armed with modern pharmaceutical knowledge, a deep love for the farm of her childhood, stubborn dedication and the help from a few descendants of the first people she picked, squished, chewed, boiled, distilled, extracted, mixed, made paste, made tea, made homeopathic drops, analysed and tested bossie after bossie. Until that one fateful day. The day she infused a grain-based vodka with a mixed extract of aromatic bossies and served it to her friends. Louise recalls the day as “The day everyone stopped listening about my grand medicinal plans and discoveries to continuously interrupt me to ask for another taste of the gin.” The rest is history (in the making). That’s how a quest for medicine created medicine for the soul, a sort of detox for the heart. That’s what friends are for. And that is how Great Karoo Spirit’s first product, Bossieveld Craft Gin was born.
GEOMETRIC GIN IS DISTILLED FROM NEUTRAL SPIRITS AND FINE GRAPE SPIRIT, RESULTING IN A TEXTURED, SILK-LIKE GIN. FRESH JUNIPER IS UNDERPINNED BY CITRUS AND CARDAMOM, FOLLOWED BY HEATHERY FYNBOS, OUR POST-MODERN DEFINITION OF CLASSIC CAPE DRY GIN.
Spicy juniper, harvested in Paarl from SA's only juniper plantation, are the cornerstone of Jorgensen's Gin. Earth notes come from angelica root, orris root, calamus root, rare african wild ginger, coriander, liquorice root and bitter apricot kernels. Ethereal top notes come from delicate touches of naartjie and Cape lemon peels, buchu, Grains of Paradise, rose geranium and perfumed Ohandua from Kaokoveld. No cucumber.
New Harbour Distillery is an experimental micro distillery located in Cape Town, South Africa pursuing artisan small batch spirits influenced by nature. When choosing our name, New Harbour Distillery, we wanted people to know our spirits are made in Woodstock, the old industrial heart of Cape Town harbour. We are a company of creative scientific individuals who combine botany, science and alchemy, to create handcrafted spirits using a combination of modern innovative and experimental distilling techniques, which is a harder way to distil, but in the end produces a product in our eyes that is vastly more authentic and superior.