The COED definition is precise: “spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries.”
Ah, but that’s what gin used to be. Reword now to something like - could be juniper-flavoured, but likely to contain others as well. And the alcohol could be grape-based or distilled from cane sugar .…
Both The Guardian and Telegraph newspapers boast very readable articles on the current gin trend, describing it as a re-gineration, and pointing out that 49 new gin distilleries opened in the UK during 2015.
We are not that prolific but the gin craze has hit Cape Town and the Western Cape with spirited force. Not only have gin bars opened in the Mother City but South Africans have a growing selection of craft gins to sip, sample and compare.
Among the first to tap into the new trend was the Inverroche distillery in Stilbaai which launched its first gin three years ago, according to a fascinating podcast that you can hear on their website. Lauren Scott produces three fynbos gins, classic, verdant and coastal, referring to the area in which the plants are grown. She now exports to 13 countries.
Fast forward to 2016 and head to Blaauwklippen estate outside Stellenbosch. Adding to their impressive range of wines and brandy, cellarmaster Rolf Zeitvogel launched a trio of craft gins in February, known as the Triple Three. The first, Juniper Berries is classic, described as offering aromas of menthol, eucalyptus, pine, cloves and lime. The Citrus Infusion gin is infused with flavours of organic lemons from Stellenbosch and Eastern Cape oranges, with juniper berries in the mix adding to the complexity of the botanicals (or flavourings.) The third gin is called African Botanicals, presenting flavours of buchu and rooibos, cloves and pine, plus earthiness of menthol berries, moss and forest honey.
These three cost R300 each and are available from the farm, from Picardi Rebel and Pick’nPay.
To Constantia and another wine farm boasting a 300+ year heritage. Buitenverwachting started experimenting with spirits some six years ago, followed a grappa with an eau-d-vie and a fine five-year-old brandy. Two years ago gin came into the spotlight as Lars Maack and distiller Joerg Saupp spent 18 months perfecting a blend of more than 30 botanicals, including pepper, lavender, orange, and lemon blossoms, rosemary and coriander. Alcohol based on cane sugar proved to be the best base, blended with about 15% grape alcohol. The Buitenverwachting gin was released a year ago, to great acclaim. Limited stocks have led to some disappointed customers,so visitors should check on availability. Meanwhile Lars and Joerg are now conjuring up a winter gin with a warmer, smoother character to combat chilly nights. More of this later.