Exciting times at the Ginfluence. It is with great pleasure I present to your our first ever guest writer!
Yolisa Qunta is a wonderful writer based in Cape Town and has a fantastic passion for gin. “Yolisa discovered the joys of gin to a trip to Victoria Falls where she was assured that not only was it perfectly acceptable to enjoy a tipple at 11am, but it could also prevent malaria. The latter turned out to be an urban legend but her love for gin continued. She is a published author, freelance writer, editor and researcher based in Cape Town. Yolisa enjoys traveling and taking pictures of all her food for Instagram.”
If you have any enquires for Yolisa, you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s great article and a delicious insight into the gin boom in Cape Town. I warmly welcome writers from around the world to get in touch if they would like me to publish something on gin in their local area. Well done Yolisa! You’re my first fellow ginfluencer and I hope you’ll keep us up to date with any more news.
Cape Town launches its first Gin Route
Cape Town, this beautiful coastal city at the tip of South Africa, is famous for many things. Visitors flock to see the mountain shaped like a piece of furniture. The wine also keeps the crowds coming. From Napoleon, who showed his diva tendencies by having dessert wine shipped to him in exile, to Barack Obama who was sipping a South African bubbly to celebrate his inauguration. Over the years many have made the pilgrimage to the wine regions and cemented their place in history.
Meanwhile a quiet gin revolution was happening. It started the way acrylic nail tips fall off: slowly then seemingly all at once. First there was Inverroche Distillery. But, in the same way Wonder Woman swooped in to save the DC franchise, along came plenty more distilleries to show that the Cape Town gin wave was not just a hipster phase.
Clearly, having a Gin Route to showcase all the fantastic places was the next logical step. I was invited to the launch which fittingly enough happened on World Gin Day. At the penthouse of a swanky hotel, I got to taste all the gins on the new route. General manager Efi Ella, one of the masterminds behind the Gin Route had this to say, “We saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional gin that is being produced locally. We are honoured to be associated with these incredible distilleries and provide a platform where users can plan their own journey of gin discovery, that is likely right on their doorstep”.
He was not kidding about the exceptional gin, I know this because I sampled every single one. I never got around to asking if it was a coincidence that all of the distilleries were in such close proximity to each other but it makes it very easy to walk the whole route so that’s a bonus. Without further ado here is a round up off all the fantastic places included in the Gin Route:
Hope on Hopkins
These folk take gin distilling very seriously. Not only to they own the first stills to be licensed by the City of Cape Town but they also make their own gins from scratch. The process starts by cooking, fermenting and distilling barley to make the base neutral spirit. Then a range of locally grown botanicals such as citrus, coriander and Fynbos are added to make magic happen to the final product.
Hope on Hopkins is truly a family oriented venue. The three stills are named after the owners grandmothers and there is a rescue puppy that welcomes visitors to the distillery. There are two cats, one who moved from rainy London with the express purpose of keeping mice out of the barley, and a rescue. RescueCat is trying to find his way and spends a lot of time in the tasting room while LondonCat is adjusting to the idea of a newcomer. So just like a normal family then.
A pink gin? Made by a lady? My money flew out of the purse of it’s own accord. Simone Musgrave of Musgrave Gin is the granddaughter of an adventurer who left Plymouth in 1949 headed for Africa and whatever adventures were to be found here. The pink gin that I love gets its Instagram ready color from rosehips and infused rosewater. The other gin is Musgrave 11 Botanicals which showcases botanicals that reflect ancient African spice routes. Highlights include cardamon. Whitei Mondei also known as African Ginger and Grains of Paradise, a very rare pepper like herb unique to West Africa.
New Harbour Distillery
In the same way that the queen of the universe planned her exit from that girl group that used to wear matching shiny outfits, the brains wanted to set themselves apart from the pack starting with nomenclature. When choosing their name, New Harbour Distillery wanted people to know that their spirits are made in Woodstock, the old industrial heart of Cape Town harbour. New Harbour 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. As Fynbos is at the heart of their gin they give back donating a specific amount to the Flower Conversation Trust from every bottle sold in the Private Collection. A conscious distillery working for conservation, I’ll raise my glass to that.
Pienaar & Son
In a past life I was a chemical engineer. I lasted two years with a multinational oil company before I set out for new pastures. I am only mentioning this because the Head Distiller at Pienaar and Son is one of those smart people who decided to put his degree to good use by producing amazing gin using cutting edge processes.
A Master Distiller in his twenties, supported by his father the distillery states boldly that they are more interested in starting traditions than following them. Having tasted their Empire Gin distilled from maize (corn) infused with botanicals to produce a flavorful English style gin I can happily attest to all the above.
Woodstock Gin Company
Before the advent of this company, Woodstock was known for overpriced artisanal coffee, hipsters in checked shirts and lack of street parking amongst many other perils of gentrification. Thankfully, Simon Von Witt has provided a good reason to venture back into the neighborhood with Woodstock Gin Company. His grape distilled Inception Gin is matured in American Oak barrels for four months. The water is collected from a natural spring nearby to ensure that there are no chemicals to alter the taste. Another highlight is the High Tea Gin infused with undertones of the famous Rooibos tea.
Cape Town Gin & Spirits Company
Can’t have a brand new gin route without an eponymous company, am I right? Inspired by the roaring twenties, Cape Town Gin & Spirits Company is all about good times and small batch labels. You already know know I have a weakness for pink gins so here we are with theirs, infused with Hibiscus flowers and rose petals, and a heavenly hint of rose water. Fresh, floral aromas on the nose, with rose and Turkish Delight on the palate. That’s what the brochure says. All I know is that the gentleman serving it to me felt like like a looooooooooooooong drink of water himself.
So here we are, 6 distilleries and one glorious Gin Route in the southern tip of the world. Let me know which you which you are are looking to drinking most in the comments below.