LAST week we attended the inaugural South African Craft Gin Awards, presented by Checkers LiquorShop, at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, where we quickly learned that to taste as many as gins in as short a time as possible, to ditch the tonic (no offence towards Barker & Quin intended). It was a practical move.
The thing is, if you have a full glass of gin and tonic and garnishes and ice – as we began with Amari – it simply takes too long to drink, and there were so many others to try. As it was, we didn’t get through all of them, and all of them were – are- winners. It was great to sample the wares, marvel over the luscious packaging and bottle designs, and to chat to the distillers. The canapés served after the award ceremony were excellent too, thank you Mount Nelson.
Yes, we tried Indlovu, the one made from elephant dung, and it was actually jolly good if you can not think about the process for a few minutes. In a room full of amazing gins, each so very different from the other, I have to single out the Die Soet Rooinek from De Vry in, well, the Free State. Made with fresh cherries, which have a short summer season, the distillers have a very labour intensive December when three tons of the fruit arrives. The distillery won double gold for its dry London style gin.
It was great to bump into old friend AC Goodger, who is the marketing manager at Nuy (between Worcester and Robertson). Twenty-six locally distilled craft gins received the highest accolade of Double Gold awards from an entry of 110 gins from more than 50 distilleries all over South Africa, and Nuy was one of those.
“We are truly blessed and happy to be acknowledged by The 2019 SA Craft Gin Awards for both our gins,” he commented. “We are comfortable making great wines, but gins are new territory.
“We tried and tested and came up with two gins born from complex, yet balanced recipes which caters for all gin lovers. When you taste one of these gins I am certain to add yet another fan to the Nuy gin family.”
The gins were blind tasted by an expert panel of judges with in-depth knowledge of the drinks industry:
- Roger Jorgensen – the father of South African gin
- Dr Anna Trapido – wine and spirits judge and food anthropologist
- Thierry Lubala – mixologist at South Africa’s largest gin bar at Asara Estate
- Jean Buckham – owner of The Gin Box, a craft gin club showcasing different SA craft gins
- Hanneli van der Merwe – oenologist and co-owner of Barker & Quin Mixers
- Tammy Frazer – perfumer and owner of Frazer Parfum
“South African gin distillers are superb when they ace it as they develop their own style and techniques. Given the plethora of wonderful botanicals here it is no wonder that the Cape is the new gin capital of the world,” said Jorgensen.
On the future of the gin industry in South Africa he added: “The future is bright and SA can be a global player, it has only just begun. Gin has been around for a long time and due to its versatile nature will not disappear overnight.”
The Double Gold award-winning gins are:
- A Mari Atlantic Ocean and A Mari Indian Ocean gins
- Copper Republic African Dry and Copper Republic Rooibos & Grapefruit gins
- Die Dröe Rooinek Dry Gin
- Flowstone Bushwillow Gin
- Geometric Classic Cape Dry Gin
- Ginologist Spice Gin
- Harmony Aloe Ferox Gin
- Indlovu Gin – Elephant Dung Gin
- Jin Gin Olive & Honey and Jin Gin Tomato & Sweet Piquante Pepper gins
- Knut Hansen Dry Gin – a South African version of the German original
- Lieben Sailor Lemon & Lime Gin
- Magalies Lavender Gin
- Monks Medella Blueberry Infused and Monks Mary Jane Hemp Infused gins
- Nuy Legacy and Nuy Mastery gins
- Old N1 African Dry and Old N1 Fijnbos Fields gins
- Old Packhouse Moringa Gin
- Pienaar & Son Empire and Pienaar & Son Orient gins
- Smiths Elderflower Dry and Smiths Spiced Dry gins
- Wild Rose Fynbos Gin
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©