Five Local Gins to Try this Summer

By What’s on in Cape Town

The gin-nification of Cape Town is showing no signs of slowing down. Not only have we seen an unprecedented expansion of new and established craft distilleries, but also some really avant-garde interpretations of this age-old juniper-based spirit. Capetonians are now blessed with a vast selection of gin with different style and quality profiles, and the movement looks set to leave other global gin capitals quaking in their boots. Benn van der Westhuizen shines a spotlight on some of the dark horses making waves right now in the South African gin scene. Stay tuned for a follow-up feature showcasing our list of prime hotspots to enjoy gin in the Cape.

Black Meerkat ‘Old Town’ Gin

Distillers Jayde Maasdorp and Mike Sayers ditched the shackles of the corporate world by tapping into their creativity and entrepreneurial ‘spirit’ (pun intended) to kickstart the unique Black Meerkat ‘Old Town’ Gin (44% ABV). The entire process of experimenting and securing botanicals, hitting stumbling blocks, and finally putting a cap onto this slick beauty lasted eleven months. And the result was worth the wait. What we get is a daring bouquet of eleven botanicals distilled exclusively at the uber-chic New Harbour Distillery, using a mix of organic and ethically sourced botanicals such as Pineapple Sage, Liquorice Root, Rose Geranium and Coriander. Black Meerkat ‘Old Town’ Gin is currently the only Old Tom-style gin in South Africa. For those not familiar with this niche varietal, Old Tom gin is a more versatile and slightly sweeter style of gin which will appeal to non-gin drinkers and fanatics alike. Maasdorp and Sayers cleverly renamed their gin ‘Old Town-style’ instead, perhaps an allusion Woodstock, where the distillery is located.

And the meerkat is not only their favourite animal, but also lends somewhat of a South African twist to the ‘black cat’ urban legend which surrounds the classic Old Tom gin. The duo recommends their gin served neat on the rocks, or with a dash of Fitch & Leeds tonic. Black Meerkat ‘Old Town’ Gin is available at quite a few outlets in the Cape such as Bar Keeper in CBD, Birkenhead House Hotel in Hermanus, Siegies On Huguenot in Franschhoek, Bottelary Hills Wine Centre in Stellenbosch, or any of the Norman Goodfellows branches across the city. For a taste of this gin wunderkind in more of a chic setting, head to Asara Wine Estate’s relatively new Sansibar Gin Bar.

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