The Ultimate Guide for Gin Tasting in the Western Capeby Hennely Nel on 22 February 2018
At first it was the craft beer craze that hit the Western Cape, and now craft gin is making waves! Gin distilleries have been popping up all around the province in the last couple of years and it might just be the tonic you’ve been looking for.
TravelGround rounded up 6 hip and happening gin tasting spots in the Western Cape where you can end off your summer with a pleasurable buzz!
This picturesque distillery is set in the little valley of De Wet, between the Breede River Valley and the Hex River Valley close to Worcester. Nestled at the edge of the Karoo, this valley is home to a wide variety of wild plants and the Six Dogs Distillery uses these wild plants and a variety of their own botanicals to create a truly unique gin.
What do they offer?
Six Dogs Blue: The name of this special gin is derived from the Blue Pea Flower (Clitoria Ternatea), which is an aphrodisiac and antioxidant in the world of traditional medicine ─ all the more reason to try it out! This gin gets its mesmerising blue colour from the Blue Pea and magically turns into a light pink when mixed with the right tonic or when lemon is added. Being a classic dry gin, you can experience a touch of lucerne and handpicked Rose Pelargonium which ads a hint of rose flavour. Get your creative juices flowing by indulging yourself in this custom-made gin, and be sure that it’s not for the faint of heart!
Six Dogs Karoo: This gin is made from 12 botanicals, including the Karoo Thorn Flower and Wild Lavender, which are all grown on the Six Dogs Farm. It also offers a hint of juniper, and a mixture of fresh citrus is brought by limes, mandarins and lemon buchu. This carefully made gin is enjoyed best on ice with a good tonic ─ no need to add any more flavour!
Did you know? Six Dogs randomly rewards those who share photographs of themselves travelling with Six Dogs Gin, so buy a bottle, get in your car and snap a photo of you travelling with your gin!
Tastings: By appointment only. Contact Charles Bryant email@example.com
Distillery Sales: Monday to Friday mornings only.
Why don’t you make a weekend of this unique gin-tasting and book one of these great getaways?
This hidden gem, which is also known as The Secret Gin Bar, is located in Wale Street in Cape Town’s vibrant city center. It’s tucked safely behind the Honest Chocolate Café, hence the nickname “The Secret Gin Bar”. It is one of South Africa’s few authentic speakeasy bars and boasts a beautiful Mediterranean-style courtyard. This bar was established about 3 years ago and hosts an impressive collection of over 40 locally crafted gins. It is becoming increasingly popular among Mother City locals as it aims to please with an interesting selection of delicious gin cocktails that would likely turn your “afternoon drink with friends” into a late night filled with gin-inspired shenanigans!
What do they offer?
The Corpse Reviver #2 was originally known as a breakfast drink during the 1920s and can be made with different spirits. If you’re in the mood for gin in particular, remember to add the “#2” when ordering. Be careful with this one though, it is quite strong!
One of the bar’s house gin and tonics, The Ambition, is made with Triple Three Juniper Gin, Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, cucumber and a cinnamon stick. It is definitely a must-try and a classic!
To make going to this exclusive bar even more exciting, it also boasts a different gin every week and uses the Gin of the Week as a base to make cocktails with. So put on your adventurous shoes and find out what The Gin Bar has to offer this week!
Did you know? To add a creepy twist to The Gin Bar’s already interesting reputation, the bar used to be an embalming room of a mortuary for 65 years and the decor is inspired by the history of this building, as well as the medicinal history of gin and juniper — the defining ingredient of gin.
Trading Hours: Open Monday to Thursday 17:00 – 01:00, Friday to Saturday 16:00 – 02:00.
Tastings: The bartenders can tell you more about the local and international gins hosted by this bar. Tastings can be reserved for a minimum of 6 people in the Upstairs Bar Thursdays to Saturdays.
The Inverroche Distillery is located on the Laurenskirk Estate near the coastal town of Stillbay, surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and indigenous forest. This distillery is a family business that specialises in the first hand-crafted gin made from Fynbos in South Africa. Their main goal was to create something original and authentically South African, and what is more South African in the botanical world than Fynbos? Inverroche does not only create high quality gin on their estate, but also liqueur and rum. They offer some of the most distinguished and flavourful gins in the country and the distillery itself offers breathtaking scenery. It’s hard to go wrong when visiting Inverroche!
What do they offer?
Gin Classic has hints of perfumed floral flavours which is combined with citrus and classic gin flavours. The aromas are not very typical to gin florals, so it is bound to give your taste-buds a gin adventure.
Gin Amber contains extracts of the ever popular Rooibos tea as well as sweet toffee apples. There is also a hint of a dry, woody finish which give this tasteful gin its depth. If you are one for intriguing flavours, Gin Amber is probably the one for you.
Gin Verdant is the more delicate gin of the three, with an aroma of elderflower and chamomile. It is the perfect summer drink, as it is both fresh and floral with only a tiny bit of acidity. In addition, it also contains hints of lemon, along with the slight sweetness of juniper. Those of you lucky enough to plan one last summer vacation ─ don’t forget to pack your Gin Verdant!
Did you know? Inverroche offers an exclusive Gin School where you can sign up for small, interactive classes and discover the secrets of craft-distilling and the art of alchemy. Who knows, you might just discover SA’s next best gin!
Tastings: By appointment only
R70 per person for a full tasting
R50 per person for a short tasting
Closed on Sundays.
Want to have more time gin-tasting in this beautiful area? You can stay here:
The Woodstock Gin Company was found by Simon Witt, who is passionate about letting the public know that gin has a lot more to offer that just being alcohol infused by Juniper berry. Simon loves experimenting with indigenous plant species such as fynbos and by careful consideration and combining of different botanicals, he created The Woodstock Company’s Gin called Inception. Nestled between the creative and upcoming urban areas of Woodstock and Salt River, this small gin distillery is the ideal location for a Saturday outing — not only does this distillery offer gin that gin lovers would go nuts for, this area also features various hipster cafés, galleries, trendy coffee shops and inspiring street art.
What do they offer?
Inception Wine Base has a hint of jasmine and coriander, with tones of buchu, rooibos and a citrus aftertaste. Add tonic water, gooseberries and rosemary for the perfect G&T.
Inception Beer Base is a stronger gin, with hints of caramel and the traditional juniper berry flavour with some lemon and lime. If you want a G&T with a twist, you can add Mediterranean tonic water, orange rind and a piece of cinnamon bark.
High Tea Gin has an undertone of rooibos and honeybush, which gives it a truly South African kick. You can enjoy it on ice or simply add a light tonic or sparkling water for a refreshing experience.
Cask Aged is grape distilled gin that is aged for 3 to 4 months in American Oak barrels. It has rich vanilla and marzipan flavours and can be mixed with lime, red peppercorns and natural tonic water for the ultimate premium gin.
They also offer Woodstock Tonic and a ready-made G&T mix for those of you who don’t feel like mixing your own G&T. You can also buy GnT Spices with 6 tea bags of indigenous spices if you feel like jazzing up your gin. How is that for creating your own hip G&T with added awesomeness?
Did you know? If you’re all out of ideas for birthday gifts, Woodstock Gin Company offers an amazing gift pack with 6 x 50ml bottles of Woodstock Gin (2 of each variety) from their boutique shop.
Tastings: You can experience their exciting wine or beer based Inceptions from 09:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, and from 09:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays.
Want to get to know this hip and happening suburb of Cape Town more? Stay here:
Spice Route is just outside the scenic Boland town of Paarl and offers the best of all things great ─ wine, beer, food, chocolate, biltong and, of course, gin. The on-site distillery creates award-winning grappa, gin and eau de vie (schnaps) using German distilling equipment and a secret distillery process. On the way to the Wilderer Distillery, you walk through the gorgeous estate and would most probably be distracted by everything Spice Route has to offer.
What do they offer?
Their Fynbos Gin consists of unique fynbos botanicals, roots, spice and spring water from the mountains of Franschhoek. The roots and spices include wild dagga, honeybush, buchu and devil’s claw. Needless to say, this gin has a distinct and strong taste, and could even take the strongest guy in the group’s breath away (in a good way, of course).
Did you know? The distiller Helmut Wilderer has won numerous gold and double gold medals at international competitions for his grappa and schnapps. Visit the distillery to have a closer look at the process and look out for the amazing Cape Healing Verb Bitter consisting of more than 30 fynbos herbs!
Trading hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
Tastings: Only by appointment
Gin-tasting: R30 per person (neat tasters of any 3 spirits)
Fynbos Gin-tasting: R80 per person (including 1 neat taste, 2 unique mini G&T’s and 1 classic Gin cocktail).
For an exciting weekend trip to Paarl and surrounding areas, book accommodation at these places:
Situated in Salt River, Cape Town, this artisanal distillery produces gin that’s to die for! Hope on Hopkins creates their gin from scratch and is one of the few in the world that uses barley as a gin base. The base is combined with botanicals such as juniper, angelica root, coriander, citrus, herbs from Franschhoek and fynbos from the Cederberg. You’re definitely in for a treat when tasting these carefully crafted gins!
What do they offer?
London Dry Gin is perfect for those who appreciate the classic gin and features a Single Malt Vodka as a base and hints of citrus, rosemary and juniper. You can enjoy it as a G&T or as a martini ─ the choice is yours!
Salt River Gin boasts hints of juniper, wild rosemary, buchu and citrus peel and by adding a slice of grapefruit and some thyme in a G&T, you’ll have the perfect drink.
The Mediterranean Gin is inspired by Mediterranean flavours such as olives, basil, thyme, rosemary, cardamom with hints of citrus and juniper. Being a savoury gin, you can enjoy it on the rocks with a green olive, or as a G&T with orange, basil and rosemary.
Did you know? Hope on Hopkins use an age old process of batch distillation and their stills are named after the founders’ grandmothers, Mildred and Maude.
Tastings: For the true gin enthusiasts, they host a Gin Experience on the first Wednesday of every month where the founders tells you more about the distillery, gins and their future plans. Bookings are essential.
Casual tasting can be done in the Distillery Tasting Room on Saturdays between 12:00 and 17:00. Make sure you book beforehand not to miss out on their spectacular gins!
Gin-tasting is definitely not the only activity to do around here! Stay at this amazing accommodation for an exciting weekend/holiday:
Has all the talk of gin given you a festive buzz? Why don’t you head on over to the Gin and Tonic Festival on 25 February 2018 at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. This festival hosts over 30 local and international gin distilleries! Gin lovers will also be treated to some electronic music and all the delicious, artisanal food The OId Biscuit Mill has to offer.
Clearly South Africa doesn’t have to shy away from competing on the global market when it comes to distilling gin. Escape the looming end-of-summer blues and find out what the craft gin hype is all about!
Feature image: BigStock
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