If you love gin but are growing a little tired of your typical tipples, then fear not, there is still much to discover on the gin shelf here in South Africa. From imported wonders to locally-made creations, you don’t have to settle for a basic London Dry every time you’re craving a G&T. We’ve put together a list of our top picks of unusual gins to try in South Africa. The gins on this list put juniper on the back burner to explore flavour profiles that are truly unique.
The gin bubble simply refuses to burst and as a result of the ongoing trend, more and more expressions of the much-loved mother’s ruin are hitting the shelves across the globe. Of course, with so many iterations available for gin lovers to try, gin brands are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. So, what’s an enterprising, discerning distiller to do? Look to the botanicals, of course! Crafted with wild botanicals, indigenous citrus and more, these 5 weird and wonderful gins get creative with intriguing ingredients that are sure to delight your tastebuds.
I still love a classic Hendrick’s gin and tonic, but the brand’s limited edition offerings never fail to excite me. The latest limited-edition, small batch release from Hendrick’s looks to the stars to bring gin lovers a unique flavour profile they won’t soon forget. Say hello to Hendrick’s Lunar Gin. The new gin is conjured up from the oddities in Ms Lesley Gracie’s Cabinet of Curiosities at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace and is a must-try for Hendrick’s fans.
Legend says this unusual gin was conceived beneath the celestial light of the moon. It yields an alluring complexity and a delightful warmth, which is best suited to refreshing sundowners, night-sipping, moon gazing and other sensible modes of contemplation. Hendrick’s Lunar is rich with night-blooming floral essence, offering a delicate balance of warm baked spices, and finished with a crisp burst of citrus. Packaged in the classic Hendrick’s bottle, now with a deep blue hue that is reflective of the night sky, this exciting new addition to the Hendrick’s range is sure to satisfy your cravings for something new and different.
Hendrick’s Lunar Gin is now available in leading bottle stores at a RRP of R499,95 for 750ml.
Roku Gin was one of the first Japanese gins to land on our shores. Rather than follow traditional British methods of crafting gin, the Japanese have instead decided to use unique production methods, which sees the botanicals distilled separately in groups, before being blended together. But it’s not just the method of production that differs, another unique characteristic of Japanese gin is the use of Japanese botanicals like yuzu, sakura blossoms, green tea, and sansho pepper, to create a completely different flavour profile. Roku Gin offers South Africans an exciting taste of this new approach to gin.
With a rare flavour base inspired by its country of origin, Roku Gin offers something truly unique for South African gin lovers. Roku, meaning ‘six’ in Japanese, highlights the six Japanese botanicals used in the distilling process, namely cherry blossoms and leaves, yuzu, sansho pepper, and a variety of teas. The spirit also includes eight more traditional gin botanicals, like juniper berries, coriander, Angelica root and seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and lemon and orange peel in order to create a balance of flavour. It’s this beautiful balance of classic gin flavours and old-world Japanese botanicals that set the spirit apart from other gins on the market.
Roku Gin is available at Norman Goodfellows, Makro, Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers and TOPS at Spar at a recommended price of R349 per bottle.
Inverroche Coco Carissa
But what’s better than a classic gin? Chocolate gin of course! Just when you thought gin couldn’t get any better, much loved local gin brand, Inverroche, launched a chocolate flavoured gin. Sustainably made, and quirky to the max, Inverroche Coco Carissa will no doubt shake up your gin cocktails this summer.
The first in Inverroche Distillery’s Creative Collection, Coco Carissa is a complex gin inspired by flavours of Africa, South America, India and Europe. It tantalises the taste buds with an artisanal blend of colours, aromas, flavours and textures perfect for any gin lover with notes of chocolate and red num-num berries.
Inverroche Coco Carissa is available online from Takealot at R429 per bottle.
Six Dogs Distillery Pinotage Gin
The lovechild of Six Dogs Gin and a neighbouring farm’s recently harvested Pinotage grapes, this exciting locally distilled gin is a must-try for wine lovers. Six Dogs launched the first iteration of the Pinotage Stained Gin back in winter 2019, disrupting the local gin market with its infusion of the proudly South African cultivar.
Like the wine variant, Six Dogs Pinotage Stained is deep in colour and bold in flavour with notes of black cherry, plum, black-currant and some tannin. While each year’s grapes bring unique (albeit subtle) variants in taste, the juniper-forward flavour is consistent, as is the quality and care that goes into crafting Six Dogs Gin. Previously produced as a seasonal Gin, Six Dogs Pinotage Stained now sits firmly beside its predecessors, Six Dogs Karoo and Six Dogs Blue, as an all-year-round offering in the range.
Six Dogs Distillery Pinotage Gin is available from the Six Dogs online store (with free delivery) at R450 per bottle.
Gin is flavoured with botanicals, and it stands to reason that of the 300+ gin brands registered in SA, about 50% are based in the world’s smallest but most diverse floral kingdom, the Cape Floristic Region. Glyn French of Flowstone Gin, is one of those bucking this trend.
Flowstone is based in no less significant an area than the Cradle of Humankind. And while other gins look to fynbos for their authenticity, Flowstone’s range covers bushveld botanicals like bushwillow seed pods, acacia, wild pear, African sage, wild cucumber, and snuffbox fruit. With South Africa recording the second-highest number of registered gin companies in the world after the UK, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. Drawing its flavours from the rich palette of indigenous bushveld botanicals, Flowstone Wild Cucumber Gin offers a uniquely wild flavour profile and truly captures the essence of the African wilderness.
In addition to the Wild Cucumber Gin, the Flowstone Gin range also includes a Marula Gin and Bushwillow Gin all available from the Flowstone website at R385 per bottle.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.