It was too close for comfort! We nearly all had to go without our favourite gins for World Gin today. To celebrate this year I’m going to list some of my favourite South African Craft Gin Brands (taste tested obviously!) and some that are on my wish list. You will notice a pattern, I love fynbos gin so if you’re a fan too, let me know what’s your favourite in the comments. Please note that the photos and images are from the websites / facebook pages of these brands.
South African Craft Gin
Inverroche brags with not one, not two, but three locally crafted fynbos gins – Amber, Classic and Verdant. I attended a gin school with them some time back and did the tasting twice so I got to experience their entire range with some biltong. The entire experience is captured over here.
Amber – Infused with fynbos from the coastal region and dunes of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Inverroche Gin Amber is a rich and aromatic, amber coloured gin with fresh citrus, slight juniper, sweet toffee apples and delicate floral notes which intertwine to deliver a dry, woody finish.
Classic – Infused with fynbos from the limestone-rich soils of the low lands of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Inverroche Gin Classic is crispy and dry with upfront green, grassy juniper notes which blend seamlessly with a bouquet of soft flowers on the nose. Redolent of summer citrus, rose petals and assertive florals, delivering a clean, dry and spicy finish.
Verdant – Infused with fynbos from the mountainous terrain of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Inverroche Gin Verdant is floral and soft with a translucent golden-green hue. Delicate aromas reminiscent of elderflower and chamomile, lead to summer blooms, a touch of spice, subtle juniper, waxy lemon rind and alluring liquorice on the palate.
My favourite of the trio is definitely the amber!
Sugarbird also brags with three permanent variants, but comes the festive season they like showing off with two additional ones (which is my favourite obviously so I act like smeagol with the ring and no one gets to touch those)
Original Fynbos – It’s got that lightly floral flavour that you’d expect from a quality gin, but – surprise! – you won’t expect the rare citrus twang, which is uniquely Sugarbird. You may also pick up notes of honeybush, rooibos, rose geranium, orange peel and buchu, originally sourced from the garden of one of our founders.
Juniper Unfiltered – Celebrating the personality and flavour of Juniper this gin offers the full personality of Juniper – paying homage to the pure essence at the core of gin. This means that Juniper and citrus tones come first, followed by floral flavours of Black Pelagonium, sweet Crimson-eyed Hibiscus and Blueberries.
Pino & Pelargonium – Enter Pino & Pelargonium. A gin that celebrates two of South Africa’s most famous botanicals: Pinotage, a globally-loved SA grape varietal; and Pelargonium, a Fynbos plant that’s known around the world as Rose Geranium.
Sugarbird Honeybush & Moringa (Limited Edition) – The subtle sweetness of honeybush is balanced by unique tea-like flavours from Moringa. Reminiscent of smooth-aged whiskey.
Sugarbird Protea & Cucumber (Limited Edition) – Inspired by South Africa’s national flower and refreshing English cucumber. An infusion of rose and lemon geranium adds to the citrus and floral flavour.
My favourite from the permanent collection is the Pino & Pelargonium and from the limited edition it’s the Protea and Cucumber.
I don’t just like this gin because we also have six dogs, it’s just really great gin! I haven’t tried the original yet so it’s on my wish list but the other I’ve had. The pino stained I was able to try the 2019 and 2020 harvest. It’s worth every single cent!
Six Dogs Pinotage Stained – Six Dogs Pinotage Stained Gin is the love child of Six Dogs Gin and their neighbour’s highly prized block of Pinotage grapes. They distill this gin in small batches through generous quantities of juniper and fresh citrus. The grapes are handpicked, then raced up the road to the distillery, de-stalked and the whole berries are placed into tanks to macerate. Here the gin gets its colour and taste profile from the deep red essence of this truly South African cultivar.
Six Dogs Blue – Deriving its name from the Blue Pea flower (Clitoria Ternatea), an antioxidant and aphrodisiac in traditional medicine. As chance would have it, ‘Blue’ is also the name of the smallest dog in their pack of six. The infusion of Blue Pea gives the Gin its striking blue colour. The alchemy of this unusual botanical is further revealed when the Gin is mixed with a good tonic, changing the colour to light pink. See a magic colour changing gin!!
Six Dogs Karoo – Six Dogs Karoo Gin is a delicate and balanced Gin of twelve select botanicals, distilled and bottled by us at Six Dogs Distillery. Its distinguishing botanicals are grown on our farm, which intersects three different bioregions including the Succulent Karoo. It is from here that we gather the Karoo Thorn flower and Wild Lavender that make our Gin unique amongst all the Gins in the world.
Here I don’t have a favourite, because they’re both my favourite! The Pinotage stained is currently for sale and last year it sold out like hot cakes, so get your hands on it asap.
Don’t forget to pair your favourite craft gins with a good tonic too! My top choices are Fitch & Leedes as as well as Fever Tree.
So that’s it for this ginisode! Keep an eye out for more. We have a LOT of deliciously crafted gins in South Africa. Perhaps I should turn this into a weekly feature, what do you guys think?!