Standout South African Gin Brands – Locally Crafted & Distilled
It seems everyone is drinking gin these days, and in South Africa, everyone seems to be making it. If you thought there were more South African gin brands than you could count, you’re almost right. Luckily, we’ve done the counting for you – here is a list of some of our favourite locally distilled South African gin.
Locally Distilled South African Gin
A Mari Ocean Gin
A Mari Ocean Gin is a partnership between ex-architect Niel du Toit and ex-copywriter Jess Henrich. A Mari translates as ‘from the sea’ in Latin. This unique gin is distilled with ocean water to enhance the botanical flavours, giving it a distinct smooth finish and delicately balanced taste. Elegant and beautiful, A Mari has earned its reputation as a premium, award-winning gin.
Indian Ocean Gin: A Mari Indian Ocean Gin draws its inspiration from the East Coast of Africa. Inspired by the warm Indian Ocean and distilled with fragrant East African botanicals. Spicy and rich, this gin features Swahili Lime and Madagascan Pink Peppercorns. After distillation, it is infused with Chai which gives it its distinctive golden colour.
Atlantic Ocean Gin: A Mari Atlantic Ocean Gin draws its flavours from the West Coast of Cape Town. Inspired by the icy Atlantic Ocean and distilled with indigenous Cape coastal Fynbos.
As the name suggests, Autograph Gin is all about signature style and their style is African Dry – something the brand’s co-owner Anthony Norton and distiller, Matt Beech are championing.
The distinctive scent of juniper berries combined with refreshing citrus flavours underpin this superb African Dry Gin. Base notes of Angelica Root, overtones of fragrant coriander and hints of delicious artemisia afra, give this gin unique strength and unparalleled depth and warmth. Together this harmonious medley of unique Cape flora is the brand’s Autograph. The perfect serve – a double shot neat on the rocks. Or for the somewhat less adventurous, add a dash or two of tonic and garnish with the zest of soft citrus.
With the craft gin market still booming in South Africa, holding company Halewood Wines & Spirits MD, Johan Oosthuizen, saw a gap in the seemingly-saturated gin market for a proudly Afrikaans distilled gin. He wanted to introduce the flavours and flair of Afrikaans culture into the distillation process.
This is how Beesblaas came about – around the fire with family and friends and the idea of introducing a proudly Afrikaans gin into the South African craft market. The idea for Beesblaas was to create a gin that perfectly complemented the Afrikaans palate. This was the inspiration behind the coriander seed undertone in the flavour profile of Beesblaas.
Black Mountain Gin
Black Mountain Gin is crafted in the Karoo, triple distilled by woodfire in a traditional Cape Postill. They produce two gins, Black Mountain Karoo Dry and
Black Mountain Karoo Flora, both of which scooped gold medals at the 2017 Michelangelo Awards. Pictured is their floral gin, which is infused with 13 botanicals including juniper, citrus zest, wild anise flowers, elderflowers, sweet thorn flowers and rose petals. We love the stylish label too.
Blind Tiger Gin
Founded in 2017 by Capetonian Keegan Cook, award-winning Blind Tiger Gin has been recognised for its unique celebration of the craft gin spirit. In 2017, Blind Tiger won Gold Medals at both the International SIP AWARDS, held in California and The Gin Masters, held in London. They also scooped a Gold medal at the World Spirits Awards in San Fransisco in 2018.
Blind Tiger Gin is pot-stilled in South Africa and infused with juniper, coriander, angelica, passionflower and lemongrass. Their latest addition is Blind Tiger Blue, a blend of juniper, angelica, coriander, blueberry & elderflower. Small-batch crafted in KwaZulu-Natal and available nationwide, Blind Tiger is an easy-drinking gin that’s both appealing and complex, yet not overwhelming to the palate.
Bloedlemoen Handcrafted Gin
This delicious South African gin has an irresistible blood orange flavour jumping out of the bottle. We’re also big fans of the label, designed by another local design genius – Lorraine Loots. Newer to the range is their Bloedlemoen Amber gin.
Cape Town Gin Co.
Distilled and bottled in the Cape, Cape Town Gin Co. gins celebrate the vibrant diversity and inspiring creative energy of Cape Town.
Inspired by the plant steeped in heritage and healthful properties, the Cape Town Rooibos Red gin is infused with organic, handpicked rooibos to extract the essence of rooibos, indigenous to the Cederberg region of the Western Cape. It’s vibrantly red in colour with the distinctive taste of rooibos.
The Pink Lady Gin is a delightful. Distilled with Rose Geranium (Pelargonium), an indigenous multi-branched shrub, dried hibiscus flowers are ground to a powder and then added to the gin to create the wonderful salmon pink colour. A heavenly hint of Rosewater is added to compliment the natural rose scent of the geranium plant.
The Cape Town Classic Dry gin pays homage to the gins first made centuries ago. Classic botanicals juniper, dried orange peel, coriander, star anise, orris root, cardamom and cassia bark are used. Dried Rhino bush, a low growing plant part of the Fynbos family is then added to the gin to create an African interpretation of a classic.
Cape Fynbos Gin
Cape Fynbos Gin is a small-batch distilled, premium, handcrafted gin distilled from the finest white spirits in small forty litre batches. This is infused with premium juniper berries and elements from more than 30 indigenous botanicals, sustainably hand-harvested for their bark, roots, berries, flowers, stems, peels or leaves. We just adore this pretty packaging.
ClemenGold Gin almost needs no introduction – all of the best parts of gin, infused with delicious Clemengold flavour. The essence of sunshine that the fruit imparts to this cosmopolitan gin is headily aromatic and upon raising your glass of gin for the first sip, a perfume of citrus draws you in. ClemenGold and orange peel, cinnamon, honey, ground almond, juniper berries, angelica and orris root, and coriander are macerated and vapour-infused to bring gin aficionados this smooth Classic Cape Dry style gin with subtle hints of citrus. We love!
Produced by liquor heavyweight KWV, Cruxland is infused with the rare Kalahari truffle as well rooibos and honeybush. We do love that leather bound neck.
Deep South Distillery
Deep South Distillery is the southernmost distillery on the Cape Peninsula and specialises in small-batch, hand-crafted spirits made with love, care and pride.
There are three gins in the range.
The Cape Dry Gin is a beautifully balanced, juniper-forward gin made in a classic dry style, but with additional botanicals grown and harvested in the Cape Peninsula. Mountain buchu adds a lovely herbal and floral aroma and flavour. The gin is a multi-award winner and was Gin of the Year in London Spirits Competition in 2019.
Ruby Gin is a flavourful aromatic gin made in a contemporary floral style. Heady scents of rose and lavender blend with deeper, darker fruity notes of honeybush, lifted by the exotic scent of hibiscus. The colour derives from an infusion of hibiscus flowers. This is a gin that invites exploration and is superb with flavoured tonics and abundant ripe fruit garnishes.
The newcomer, Spice Island Gin, is a tribute to the aromatic heritage of Zanzibar and other Indian Ocean spice islands. A dry gin heritage is overlaid with subtle, tantalising flavours and aromas of allspice, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom, against a palate of sweet citrus zests. Great with Indian tonic or ginger ale, garnished with citrus and spices, or straight up with a grapefruit tonic, this is their best and most complex gin yet.
De Vry Distillery
Out of the obscure backlands of the Free State, a country of blue skies and an abundance of sorghum, a whimsical yet serious distillery was born. Founded by the Du Plooy brothers, De Vry Distillery was created out of the desire to produce a range of 100% farm-grown spirits, including two gins, Die Soet Rooinek Cherry Gin and Die Droe Rooinek Dry Gin.
Their range represents a blend of cultures and tastes any South African would be proud of. Just like joining in on an after-school sport just for gags only to find out you’re really good at it, De Vry Distillery started as a fun initiative that soon became a meticulously crafted and truly authentic local distillery.
Distillery 031 Durban Dry Gin
There is no doubt that this Durban-proud distillery is making waves in the gin scene across the country. They experiment with a number of spirits but loyal fans seem to come back for their gin every time. Their London Dry is particularly bold with the mix of botanicals resulting in a noticeably oily, but delicious, rich palate. They also now have a Scarlet Gin and a Barrel Aged gin too and a whole host of awesome awards proving that this KZN team know what they’re doing.
Die Mas Kalahari Dry Gin
Die Mas has been producing wine for some time now but their gin fits right into their repertoire. They feature gins infused with naartjie, pomegranate and even the Kalahari truffle.
Flowstone Wild African Botanicals Gin
Flowstone is a small batch gin lovingly hand-crafted in the Cradle of Humankind. They use the rich palette of wild African indigenous flowers, leaves, berries and fruits, hand-picked from the Mountain Bushveld vegetation that surrounds the distillery, to create their unique and distinctive gins.
The range comprises of 3 characterful and very different gins.
Flowstone Marula, with just a hint of tangy Marula and all the delight of springtime in the bush, soft and easy-drinking, it’s like sipping an African sunset.
Flowstone Wild Cucumber Gin, fresh with delightful green notes from the African Wild Cucumber – a complex, layered and intriguing gin.
Flowstone Bushwillow Gin – lovely low tones that are warm and woody, a gin-lovers gin that keeps rewarding.
Flowstone, winner of 3 Double Golds in the 2019 Michelangelo Awards – the only Gin brand to hold 3 Double Golds in the same year – ever.
Distilling whizz kid Jean-Baptiste Cristini produced Geometric Gin – an ode to the Cape Floral Kingdom. This Cape Dry Gin is clean and refreshing with delicate notes of cardamom, citrus and mountain fynbos. Perfectly matched with their range of Symmetry Botanical Tonic concentrates which are low in sugar.
Highlighting the science behind distilling, Ginologist has produced three distinctly flavoured gins. Their Citrus gin has notes of lime, grapefruit and a hint of lemon. Their Spice Gin is a complex array of spice notes on the nose, led by the hard peppers and underpinned by cinnamon notes from the cassia bark. Their floral gin is a fragrant spirit with notes of rose geranium underpinned by pollen notes from Orange Blossom. Each as easy drinking and delicious as the next.
Tucked away in the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area, at the southern tip of the Cederberg Mountains, is the GINSMITH micro-distillery, Tygerkloof. Here, retired psychotherapists Lesley Clark and Colleen Smith handcraft award-winning gins, which, from field to glass, express their artisanal ethos. Since launching, GINSMITH has been awarded 8 medals, including 6 golds.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains and fynbos, it makes sense that botanicals are hand-harvested from the immediate terroir. Kapok (wild rosemary), mpephu (African sage), buchu, rosemary, sage and rooibos are just a few of the unique local infusions that make GINSMITH gins so special. Ginsmiths donate R10 from every bottle sold to the Cape Leopard Trust’s incredible conservation and educational efforts.
Probably one of the first distilleries to be making gin locally, Hope Gin distillery (previously Hope on Hopkins) is based in Salt River and is run by Leigh Lisk and Lucy Beard – two ex-lawyers. Their flagship range includes a classic London Dry, African Botanical – an infusion of Cape Fynbos and their Mediterranean – with olives and fresh herbs. They also have a Hope Esperanza Agave and a small-batch vodka.
The world’s first elephant dung gin! Yes, we’re not kidding. This exclusive gin is for the person who loves the spirit of Africa – the freedom, the sunsets, the textures and the flavours of the African bush. Elephant dung (full of African botanicals of course) is collected, extracted, cleansed and used in the distilling process, so essentially, elephants are the foragers – how unique! 15% of the profits of Ndlovu gin are donated to the Africa Foundation to support wildlife conservation projects.
Incendo Distillery’s Magalies Classic Gin is made from 16 different botanicals. It starts out with hand-harvested and peeled limes and lemons from the Magalies Valley. To balance the citrus flavours they add rose geranium grown in their own gardens, as well as blossoms from aloes endemic to the Magalies region. Lastly, they add a secret botanical contributing to the unique flavour of this gin. The aloe blossoms in this gin are from the Aloe Peglerae and Aloe Arborescens, which are endemic to the Magaliesberg area.
The distillery has planted its own aloes – grown from seed for the harvesting of blossoms in the future and conservation of these species. This is a very versatile gin and can be used in G&T’s and classic gin cocktails. The range also includes a lavender and a rose varietal.
One of the stalwart South African gin brands, Inverroche has become synonymous with great gin. Their Amber Gin, which has become one of their most iconic flavours, is infused with fynbos hand-picked from the aromatic blooms scattered along the dunes of the Southern African coastal region. But their Classic and Verdant (an ode to local summer blooms) are equally delicious. Look out for their limited release gins that make great gifts for the avid gin collector.
Also one of the early gin producers, Jorgensen’s makes the most of locally harvested juniper and allows it to shine in their iconic classic style. Look out for their new Wild Rose Distillery gin too.
L-Gin handcrafted gin started in July 2018 by three good friends who live in Elgin and love gin. To celebrate the valley, they created artisanal spirits that distil the essence of the Elgin valley into unique gin. They produce small batches of craft gin, using the locally grown fruit and locally grown juniper.
The range includes L-Gin Lush, a crisp, refreshing summer gin using local juniper, Granny Smith apples and lemons, as well as coriander, ginger and angelica. L-Gin Crush is created when locally grown juniper meets locally grown blueberry, lemon and indigenous salvia in the distillation process. Other botanicals for Crush include African Striped pepper from Ghana, angelica and coriander. L-Gin Plush is a twist on an African dry – a warm full-bodied gin inspired by the many oak trees lining the farm roads in Elgin. Plush is a juniper and citrus-forward gin, matured in oak after distillation to create a smooth full body gin with a rich oak colour.
Misty Mountain Gin
Misty Mountains Estate is situated just outside Stanford in the Western Cape. Misty Mountains Distillery produces four handcrafted gins on the Estate. Dragonfly is their traditional gin with Butterfly, Firefly & Mayfly all flavoured with unique tastes and colours. They carefully select only the finest botanicals to make their gin with and triple distill their alcohol to ensure a smooth mouthfeel with every sip. Due to the small amounts produced each year, Misty Mountain gin is currently only available for sale in their Tasting Room. Visit them next time you’re driving down the R43.
MONKS is a dry gin, handcrafted and double-distilled in small batches using a hybrid artisanal still called ‘Jennifer’, named after Nic’s mother and of Nic’s own design. Expect intensely flavour-forward botanicals, nine of them hand-picked and many endemic to the area. Combine with crystal-clear mountain waters and the result is a rewarding one, featuring ripples of citrus, berries and Cape Buchu.
While MONKS makes no claims whatsoever as to the health benefits of their gins, the key ingredients in each make for interesting reading. Mysterium is infused with, among other things, the Sceletium herb, a natural mood enhancer sometimes referred to as the ‘pathway to the gods’. Medella features blueberries, farmed by the Lategans and well known as a vitamin-rich superfood high in antioxidants; while Mary Jane is endowed with hemp, widely accepted as a miracle plant. Make MONKS the magic ingredient in your next cocktail and experience a taste of something gratifyingly glorious.
With a strong British history, Musgrave does the English proud. Their flagship classic gin includes no less than 11 botanicals, but their pink offering has almost become their most popular – owing to its millennial pink hues.
New Harbour Distillery
With a striking, minimalist label, it’s hard to ignore this South African gin brand. They distell from their carbon-neutral distillery in Somerset West and create three unique gins with local flair – Maroela, Spekboom and Rooibos.
Nuy Winery Gins
Established in 1963, Nuy Winery was built on a singular cornerstone: Quality. As with their winemaking, Nuy ensures quality by producing and sourcing the very best botanicals, alcohol and packaging from within the borders of South Africa and around the world.
In keeping with the craft culture, Nuy’s hand-crafted gins are created in small batches at a time of 2500 bottles of the Nuy Mastery Craft Gin and only 1000 bottles of the limited edition Nuy Legacy Craft Gin. Nuy Winery’s unique craft gin recipes were carefully created through various experimental batches in order to craft both complex and balanced recipes which cater for all gin lovers.
Pienaar and Son
Run by the irrefutably cool André Pienaar, with the help of his father, Pienaar and Son has been around for a few years but has the maturity and ease of a much older business. He features two very unique gins; Empire – with citrus, cucumber, nutmeg and cardamom – and Orient – a heavily spiced mix of vanilla, rosemary, cinnamon, almonds, ginger and allspice. Have a lookout for their ‘Ugly Gin’ — minimal fancy packaging at a seriously competitive price.
Pimville Gin is infused with a combination of truly African flavours. Signature botanicals of juniper, baobab, marula fruit, lemon, coriander, angelica and orris root make up Pimville’s flavour profile.
The baobab fruit used in the production of Pimville Gin is sourced from small-batch farmers in Mpumalanga. Pimville Gin was awarded the Old Mutual Trophy for Best Distilled Gin in the 2019 Old Mutual Trophy Spirits Show.
These two stylishly packaged gins have been created by two enterprising cousins, Marnus and Rossouw Kruger. When tossing around ideas for a name they realised that the Spanish word “primos” means cousins and in Italian, “primo” means first and that intriguing combination made the perfect name for a lemon-fermented gin – the first of its kind in South Africa. Rather than fermenting grain, they ferment lemons produced from their own farm to produce the alcohol, which is then double distilled with a Brazilian strain of juniper berry. This means that it is lemon fermented instead of lemon-infused, with the fruit forming the very foundation of the spirit. This crisp, double distilled, craft gin has subtle aromas of spicy juniper and fresh citrus zest, with a dry lemon finish.
Their alluring blue gin is six times scientifically distilled with subtle aromas of spicy juniper and blueberry sweetness, layered with rhubarb and botanicals.
The cousins are keen activists for conservation, for each bottle sold, R15 is donated towards the Nkombe Rhino NPC in order for them to “fight another day” in conserving wildlife heritage.
Prohibition Gin – Silver Creek Distillery
Silver Creek Distillery, the folks that brought us moonshine, put their minds to making a clear craft gin in the New World style – fresh, crisp and happy; not too dry and infused with traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander, lemon, angelica and cinnamon. The resulting Prohibition Craft Gin, bottled at 43% alcohol, is a versatile spirit ideally suited to be further enhanced with botanicals, fresh fruit and herbs and good quality craft tonics. The Prohibition Pink Gin, also at 43%, is infused with raspberries and blueberries, with a touch of hibiscus flowers and rose water. The result is a refreshing drink that is both aromatic, flavoursome and romantic.
A new Prohibition Blue Gin has been added to the Prohibition Gin family which uses blue pea to derive its colour.
Both new Prohibition Gins are sold in a distinctive traditional bottle, complete with finger-loop for easy carrying.
Six Dogs Distillery
Sitting on the fringe of the Karoo, it is almost guaranteed that Six Dogs is going to have some of the most locally-flavoured gin around. Their Karoo gin features Karoo Thorn flower and Wild Lavender as well as a medley of citrus including limes, Clemengold and lemon buchu, along with cassia, chamomile and angelica. Their Blue offering is a fun infusion of the Blue Pea flower that turns pink when mixed with good tonic.
Sugarbird Cape Fynbos Gin
Inspired by the bird’s natural habitat, Sugar Bird, based in Cape Town, features a gin that is overwhelmingly floral. With notes of rooibos, honeybush, rose geranium and the Cape May Flower, this is the easiest drinking South African gin around.
The Old Packhouse Distillery
This range of crafty gins originates in Tzaneen. Yip, they’re distilling gin in Tzaneen. The Old Packhouse Distillery is producing three gins in their range, Blueberry Gin, Crystal Gin and a citrus-infused Valencia Gin. They even make a schnapps!
Time Anchor Distillery Mirari Gin
Time Anchor Distillery produces 3 beautiful gins, Amber African, Pink Damask and Blue Orient, each with their own distinct flavour profiles. We love the beautiful packaging, and what’s inside of course.
Triple Three Estate Distillery
Produced on the Blauwklippen Wine Estate, this juniper-forward gin is no shrinking violet. It’s punchy and refreshing and has become an instant classic South African gin.
The General’s Gin
With a gorgeous design and a striking name, The General’s Gin is bound to fit right in with your gin collection. The flavour of their flagship gin is balanced with fresh notes of lemon zest and candied orange peel, pine needles and black pepper and is mellowed out by earthy characters of fennel, dill, buchu and vanilla
Voted Best in Africa 2020 – The Gin Guide UK
‘Find and Refine’ is the motto of the distillers at Unit43 Distilling Company. They find the best ingredients and refine them into the quality, award-winning, batch distilled spirits in every bottle of Unit43 Gin.
The Unit43 team love making things that they love, and they love gin, so it was inevitable that the two would come together at some point. The team behind the brand wanted to have a hand in all aspects of the distillery and distilling process, which led to the idea of building all of their equipment themselves, from the still to the bar and even their bike… yes, they love bikes too. Almost all of the equipment was made using recycled metals and materials, which is also important to their identity.
Their recipe experimentation spanned two years and over 200 different recipes with wild and wonderful ingredients until finally Unit 43 Gin was born. Smooth, balanced and local in its ingredients.
Vale Handcrafted Gin
The creator of Victoria Handcrafted Gin fell in love with the town of Prince Albert in the Karoo and this inspired the creation of this range of 3 gins. Victoria Pink, Victoria Amber and Victoria Blue. The Victoria range, blue, pink and amber burst with bouquets of African and traditional botanicals. A portion of every bottle of Victoria gin sold is donated to the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary in Prince Albert, we love that.
Victoria’s Stag Gin
Made by Van Loveren, most famous for their wines, this strawberry infused gin gets its sweet flavour by infusing handpicked and air-dried strawberries with juniper berries, cassia bark, angelica root, orange peel and coriander seed.
Wilderer Fynbos Gin
Having been distilling grappa since 1995, the Wilderer Distillery team knows what they’re doing. Having accrued over 70 international medals and awards, Wilderer has become synonymous with quality, artistry and integrity. Produced in harmony with nature, the purest wine spirit, water from the Franschhoek mountains and unique Fynbos botanicals make this Cape Gin a true South African speciality. Wilderer Fynbos Gin boasts a very well balanced assortment of herbs, spices and zest on the nose. On the palate, it reveals juniper berries and typical Cape Fynbos in stunning depth and complexity. To be sipped neat, mixed with quality soda or tonic water.
Wild Rose Fynbos Gin
This multi award winning gin from Jorgensen’s Distillery, is produced from the finest grain spirit, originating from the fiery heart of our traditional copper pot still, circa 1860. Crystal clear, deep and complex with upfront juniper notes and a fragrant, aromatic bouquet with zesty orange. Distilled in small batches to capture the delicate balance between the familiar robust character of juniper and the uniquely wild flavours discovered in the kaleidoscope of precious African botanicals — locally hand-harvested buchu, honey bush and confetti bush. The Wild Rose Fynbos Gin forms part of their extensive line-up of artisan products, including Hibiscus, Pepper and a popular colour shifting Blue Pea Gin. They honour the rich history of Spirit making in South Africa, with their distinctive young black crow carrying a symbolic story about the revival of the South African craft spirit industry.
A quintessential South African gin, Wixworth is artfully balanced, handcrafted and infused with six natural botanicals including juniper berries, coriander, cassia bark, angelica root and orange peel. Wixworth’s distinct, earthy flavour is emphasized by its signature use of Renosterbos. It is an exquisitely balanced, delicately fragranced gin that’s crisp and dry with hints of spice and zesty citrus notes. Enjoy the classic Wix & Tonic – Wixworth Gin and tonic water with a lime wheel over ice.
Woodstock Gin Co.
True to its name, the Woodstock Gin range pays homage to the area of Woodstock and its rich cultural history. Named after streets in the area, the four gins in the range each have their own unique flavour and story. 399 on Albert is their original, followed by 021 on Victoria, which is Rooibos-infused, 142 on Gympie, which is hemp-infused and 001 in Searle, which is ginger-infused. From the stylish packaging to the considered distilling, everything about this range of gins exudes local passion. The tasting room is well worth a visit.
Are you a local gin brand? Get in touch to be featured on this list.
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