Monday, 24 October 2016 11:52

Pure gin-ius

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A Pineapple Mojito with Musgrave Gin A Pineapple Mojito with Musgrave Gin Pictures supplied by various brands

A neutral, flavourless spirit, gin was traditionally infused with juniper berries, which were added by the Dutch in the 17th century to make it more palatable (hence "Dutch courage"), as well as other botanicals, which release their aromatics during the distillation process. This helps create each gin's signature scents and flavour variations. As South Africa is rich in interesting flora, from the Cape floral kingdom to the interior and coastline, plus artisinal gin creation has become extremely fashionable, we are currently producing some very fine craft gins.

The big British gin companies have become the benchmark for sophisticated and smooth gin flavours but even British gin is embracing a more artisinal approach.

From fynbos and spekboom to buchu, African ginger and rooibos, South African gin boasts an exciting line up of botanical flavours that have changed the face of traditional gins. In addition we favour the small batch and handpicked approach and use the purest spring water available.

Craft gin bars are springing up in every urban area, from Primi Piatti to the weekend markets in the Maboneng District and rooftop spaces and an annual gin and tonic festival is being held in Pretoria in November.

The unique showcase of African botanicals has not gone unnoticed and already KWV's Cruxland Gin, infused with Kalahari truffles, has been mentioned in an article by the Evening Standard as one of the best gins in the world. 

 So when the drinks trolley comes around, these are the gins you need to reach for:

Cruxland Gin: 

The truffles impart an earthy character to this clear, fragrant liquid that is lightly tinted by the signature botanicals, boasting notes of fresh juniper and lemon, further enhanced by coriander and spices. It has a a flavour which is both bold, and perfumed all at once. 

On tasting you discover the juniper berries in the front, the spicy magic of coriander, aniseed and cardamom in the middle, and a soft, cooling and sweetish finish from the honeybush, rooibos, almond, lemon and Kalahari truffles.

A double pot distilled London Dry Gin, Cruxland is re-distilled with 100% grape spirits and nine different botanicals.

Musgrave Gin:

One of our most attractively packaged products, infused with rosewater, this is perfect to pop into a suitcase as a gift for an overseas friend or expat, and almost looks like a perfume bottle!

Musgrave Gin is an artisan gin celebrated for its top notes of Cardamom, African Ginger and Grains of Paradise.

The delightful salmon-tinted Musgrave Pink Gin is distilled with Musgrave’s signature 11 botanicals, and celebrates distinct top notes of Cardamom, African Ginger and Grains of Paradise. Rose hips are added during the distilling process and the expressive Cardamom and obligatory Juniper contributions are softened so as not to mask the gentle perfume of the roses. A further infusion of Rosewater adds a subtly exotic perfume and flavour to the gin.
 
Inverroche Gin

Inverroche is made in Stillbaai, and infused with indigenous and fynbos flora, which are hand harvested from the Cape sanddunes and mountains. The distillery makes three varieties: gin classic, gin verdant and gin amber. The latter is mellowed with tannin-rich coastal botanicals which give it its characteristic colour.

Ginifer Gin

Ginifer is an artisanal dry gin carefully crafted in small batches and copper distilled in Linbro Park, Johannesburg. The gin is infused with 13 different botanicals, sourced from all over the world. A number of the botanicals are native African medicinal herbs and sourced from places such as the Faraday muti market.

A posher relation of Ginifer is Westcliff Gin, which will be launched at the Gin and Tonic Festival On November 5 2016.

Wilderer Gin

The Wilderer Fynbos Gin won gold at the Meininger International Spirits Awards in Germany. With a love of tradition this Cape Gin  uses the finest wine spirits, unique fynbos botanicals and the clearest spring water from the Franschhoek mountains, making it a true South African speciality. This unique South African gin is carefully crafted from a special selection of fynbos botanicals, roots &and spices, including wild dagga, honeybush, buchu and devil’s claw.

Jorgenson's Gin

The website for Jorgenson's states that it is "a journey through extraordinary African aromatic botanicals, using South African grown Juniper and peppery Grains of Paradise from West Africa".

"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.

 "This exception-to-the-rule gin is hand crafted in tiny batches in a copper pot still.  The botanicals for each batch are suspended in the still above the purest wine spirit to bathe in its vapours.  This gentle bathing gives our gin delicacy and finesse appreciated by almost nobody as we only make small amounts for one-in-a-million individuals."

Triple Three Estate

Triple Three Estate gin is proudly produced using a state of the art copper column-pot still located at the historic Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, home of innovation for over 333 Years. Triple Three Estate Distillery delivers perfectly balanced craft gins that make the best start for a world class drink.

100% Juniper Berry Gin is South Africa’s first craft gin expressing the unique flavour of hand-selected whole juniper berries. Citrus Infusion and African Botanicals let you enjoy the richness of distinct local flavours.

New Harbour is infused with rooibos which gives its a reddish colour as well as spekboom.

Bloedlemoen Gin contains blood orange and sweet orange peel infusions, as well as juniper, coriander, angelica root, liquorice root, cassia, nutmeg and grains of paradise. The botanicals are macerated in the alcohol in the still before and during the distillation process. The blood oranges are steeped overnight, and then boiled together with the juniper and coriander seed during the distillation process. A classic London Dry style, with a lingering orange taste.

Other notable South African gin brands include:

Classic Dry and Rooibos Red rom Cape Town Gin and Spirits Co. The first has a strong juniper flavour, while the second has the South African twist of added organic rooibos.

The best gin in the Free State can be found in Clarens - it's called Red Stone. Apple schnapps is infused with juniper and other botanicals and makes a lovely fruity gin.

Gauteng boasts Time Anchor's Livingstone Gin, with African botanicals and a citrusy London Dry Gin, R'New's Dam Fine Gin from the Vaal Dam, and Black Horse gin, which is made in the Magaliesberg.  

Durban's first craft distellery, Distellery 031, produces Durban Dry Gin, plus a barrel aged gin in the pipeline.

A bit of Gin Trivia

Gin was originally consumbed by the poorer strata of society ("Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence" was the slogan in Hogarth's day) but gained respectability after better methods of distilling and retailing led to more subtle and refined flavours. 

After this quantum leap from lowlife gin palaces to high society gin has now become the tipple of the trendy bearded hipster, hence the whole "craft" and "artisinal" language woven into its production and consumption.

 

 

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