Gin is no longer just for the blue-rinse brigade

06 January 2016 - 02:00 By Belinda Mountain
A Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail that teams gin, vermouth and Campari.
A Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail that teams gin, vermouth and Campari.
Image: Supplied

A slew of South African distilleries are uplifting this traditionally old-fashioned spirit by doing things differently, which is helping to attract a younger, trendier market.

Lorna Scott, founder and owner, Inverroche Distillery in Stilbaai in the Western Cape, says that since the distillery’s inception in December 2011 sales have grown exponentially. “We started off selling fewer than 100 bottles in our first month of production, and four years later we’re selling between 8,000 and 10,000 units a month.”

Lorna agrees that a gin revival is taking place globally and that South Africa is no exception. She believes that this is largely due to the worldwide re-emergence of the cocktail culture. “Many new gin bars are opening across South Africa and the cocktail hour is alive with local gins all taking pride of place,” says Lorna.

Inverroche gin comes in three different flavours: classic, verdant, and amber – each with its own distinct flavour profile that appeals to different palates. Eighty-five percent of Inverroche gin is sold locally and the remaining 15% is exported to 13 countries around the world. “The export market’s love for our fynbos-infused gin is growing daily and we are constantly inundated with enquiries,” says Lorna.


Lucy Beard from Hope on Hopkins Distillery, a new, local gin brand, was living and working in London and watched the rise of several craft distilleries there with interest. After spending time travelling in Spain, where gin and gin bars are extremely popular, the seed to start her own distillery in Salt River, Cape Town, was planted. “We launched our gin in Johannesburg at the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair in early October and did far better than anticipated,” she says. The South African-inspired Salt River Gin, made with Western Cape botanicals, was sold out a day and a half before the end of the show.

More international gin brands are arriving in South Africa regularly. And KWV, a larger local brand, recently launched its Cruxland Gin. “People are becoming increasingly aware that no two gins are the same - gin is really having a revolution here, and gin sales are on the increase,” says Lucy.

Try these gin ideas with a twist:

•  Use a stick of cucumber instead of a wedge of lemon in your G&T.

•  Choose soda instead of tonic to bring out the flavour of the gin.

•  Add a curl of orange zest for something different.

•  Drink your gin neat on the rocks with lots of ice.

•  Make a gin fizz using sugar and whipped egg whites.

Great gin recipes to try:

•  Gin & peach cooler.

Watermelon with gin drizzle & spicy salts.


This article was originally published in ones of the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property & lifestyle guides. Visit, like YourNeighbourhoodZA on Facebook and follow YourHoodZA on Twitter.