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.
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 to ‘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 Cape coastal fynbos.
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
Blind Tiger Gin is pot-stilled in South Africa and infused with juniper, coriander, angelica, passionflower and lemongrass. One of their offerings, Blind Tiger Blue is 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.
Founded in 2017 by Capetonian Keegan Cook, 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.
Bloedlemoen Handcrafted Gin
This delicious South African gin has an irresistible blood orange flavour. We’re also big fans of the label, created by another local design genius – Lorraine Loots. Their range includes Bloedlemoen Amber, a gin that’s irresistible in flavour and handcrafted to perfection.
Cape Town Gin Co.
Distilled and bottled in the Cape, Cape Town Gin Co. celebrates the vibrant diversity and creative energy of Cape Town.
Inspired by the plant steeped in heritage and herbal properties, the Cape Town Gin’s Rooibos Red 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 with the distinctive taste of rooibos.
The Pink Lady Gin is 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.
They’ve added a fourth to their collection, Black Rhino Gin, a bold gin with herbaceous notes, owing to the infusion of Renosterbos and buchu.
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, the perfume of citrus immediately 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 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 named ‘Gin of the Year’ in the 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.
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. Possibly their best and most complex gin yet.
Three Citrus Gin is one of their most popular offerings. A deliciously fragrant and zesty gin infused with citrus fruits from the Cape, and botanicals like lemongrass and lemon pelargonium – perfect for adding to cocktails and G&Ts.
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 have a Scarlet Gin and a Barrel Aged gin, 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, strawberry 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 three unique and distinctive 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.
Award-Winning Gins – 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 as 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 Orient Gin is a London Dry style gin with an array of spice and oriental flavours, led by strong juniper and liquorice aromas. 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, from field to glass, expressing 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. GINSMITH supports the Cape Leopard Trust’s incredible conservation and educational efforts.
Probably one of the first distilleries to be making gin locally, Hope 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.
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 future blossoms and for the conservation of these species. This versatile gin can be used in G&Ts and classic gin cocktails. The range also includes a lavender and a rose varietal.
Founded by all-women team Kirsty Pienaar and Saskia Brown, both with a tourism marketing background, indiGINous was crafted to give local and international travellers a true taste of South African biodiversity. Its first label ‘Zest’, which incorporates twenty-two local botanicals was awarded Double Gold at the 2022 SA Craft Gin Awards, as well as a gold medal at the 2022 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards.
With Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) as the main botanical, indiGINous Zest is a 100% distilled and handcrafted gin that is wildly refined yet down-to-earth. The Spekboom leaves offer a hint of citrus on the palate, complemented by Kapokbos, Slangbos, Confetti Bush and Cape Aloe, amongst others. Smooth and silky, it is produced with fresh spring water from Elgin’s mountains to create this dry-style gin, with subtle juniper and floral notes.
The world’s first elephant dung gin! No, 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! Fifteen percent of the profits of Ndlovu gin are donated to the Africa Foundation to support wildlife conservation projects.
One of the stalwart South African gin brands, Inverroche has become synonymous with great gin. Their Amber Gin, which is 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 L-Gin 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 Distillery
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 botanical ingredients for their gin, 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 intense 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. Make MONKS the magic ingredient in your next cocktail and experience the glorious taste.
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 pink hue.
New Harbour Distillery
With a striking, minimalist label, it’s hard to ignore this South African gin brand. They distill from their carbon-neutral distillery in Somerset West and create three unique gins with local flair – Maroela, Spekboom and Rooibos are just some of their offerings.
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. They offer 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’ which comes in 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 to help conserve wildlife heritage.
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. Other offerings include Honey Lime Gin, as well as their Blue Light and Blue Gin – a fun infusion with Blue Pea flower that turns pink when mixed with good tonic. Wine and gin connoisseurs will love their Pinotage Gin.
Sugarbird Cape Fynbos Gin
Inspired by the Sugar Bird’s natural habitat, this Cape Town-based distillery produces botanical and floral infused gins. With notes of rooibos, rose geranium and the Cape May Flower, this is the easiest drinking South African gin around. Those who love unique flavours will appreciate their diverse range of gins, including Pino & Pelargonium, Juniper Unfiltered, and Honeybush & Moringa.
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 arrange of beautiful gins, including Amber, Damask Rose, Wild Blossom, Blue Orient and more creative offerings, each with their own distinct flavour profiles. They also have an exclusive range of Mimari Shimmer Gins; we love the beautiful packaging, and what’s inside of course.
Triple Three Estate Distillery
Produced on the Triple Three Estate Distillery, this juniper-forward gin is no shrinking violet. It’s punchy and refreshing and has become an instant classic South African gin. Other offerings include gin infusions like African Botanicals, Citrus and Raspberry Blush.
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 Unit 43 Gin.
The Unit 43 team only make 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 Unit 43 Original Gin was finally born, followed by their Oak Wooded Gin. Smooth, balanced and local in its ingredients.
Vale Handcrafted Gin
Vale is a hand-crafted, small-batch gin made in Bonnievale, South Africa. They have two flavours in their range – Fynbos Infused, carefully crafted from juniper berries, cassia bark, angelica root, orange peel and coriander seed; and refreshing Cucumber Infused gin.
Victoria Handcrafted Luxury Gin
The creator of Victoria Handcrafted Gin fell in love with the town of Prince Albert in the Karoo, inspiring the creation of this range. The Victoria range comprises of five different gins – classic pink, blue, amber, orange and dry – which 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 hand-picked and air-dried strawberries with juniper berries, cassia bark, angelica root, orange peel and coriander seed.
West Coast Distillers
This Langebaan-based distiller is spearheaded by long-time pals with a mutual love for the ocean and the booze. West Coast Distillers produce hand-crafted gin, spirits and bitters. Their gin portfolio includes Caspyn West Coast Dry Gin (limited availability), inspired by the ocean and has slightly salty and citrus notes. Belladonna Night Shade is for the daredevils and is made with local Nastegal; a non-lethal version of Nightshade Berry. Co-owners, Shaun and Shane, prove that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ with their last gin offering birthed during lockdown – No Frills is simple, without skimping on the taste and quality. They also released their Seekat West Coast Dry Gin last year – absolutely worth a try.
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. Fresh and floral, their Rose Water Gin contains cinnamon, cardamom and Turkish delight notes.
Wild Rose Distillery 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 Craft Range 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 emphasised 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, made from Wixworth Gin and tonic water, with a lime wheel over ice.
Woodstock Gin Co.
From the stylish packaging to the considered distilling, we love everything about this flavourful range of gins. The Woodstock Gin Co. premium range has three unique gins – The Woodstock Original pays homage to the origins of this innovative brand, and contains a full-bodied juniper notes; the Tangerine & Fiery Ginger blends citrus flavours of tangerine and ginger root. Brambleberry & Purple Lotus boasts exotic floral and subtle juniper notes. The tasting room is well worth a visit.
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