While South Africa has certainly caught gin fever, it might come as a surprise that there are more than 75 local gin brands being produced by 50 local gin distillers dotted around the country. Now, thanks to the launch of The Gin Box, SA’s first craft gin club, gin lovers can enjoy the multitude of locally produced, craft gins and tonics, with a different brand delivered to their door every month.
Global growth of gin has increased year on year, accelerating dramatically for the past three. New consumers and product innovation are the driving forces behind the sector’s international success. Incredibly, according to The Guardian, British drinkers have been quaffing gin in record amounts during 2016, buying 40 million bottles in a spending spree that outstripped sales growth in beer and sparkling wine.
SA, however, has the benefit of a massively diverse flora that provides botanical ingredients unlike anywhere else in the world, rooibos and fynbos among two of the most common examples. In fact, SA is the only country in the world with an entire plant kingdom inside its borders. This, together with a local appetite for entrepreneurship has seen many distilleries popping up, crafting often adventurous, small batch gins to satisfy any palate.
“Gin has long been enjoyed in South Africa and, for decades, we have been drinking many imported British gins, because, up until recently, we had never really ‘South Africanized’ it. In addition, it had always been drunk with a simple tonic, but it could be adapted and made more original by adding hints of flavour, garnishes like pomegranates or rosemary, through to even changing the colour of the gin,” says Jean Buckham, founder of The Gin Box.
Members of The Gin Box will receive on a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or ad hoc basis (gifts, for example) a magnificent box showcasing a small batch craft gin with unique tonics that accompany the gin and hand-picked gourmet food items that complement the taste journey of the month. No two months will be the same.
“There’s no doubt that there’s more bravery and fun with gin drinking because there’s more versatility with it. In the same way that whisky experienced its own period of popularity, which will always endure, and craft breweries exploded onto the scene, gin has rapidly emerged as the new star player of the drinks cabinet and bar scene,” adds Buckham.
In this brave new world of gin, many drinkers are often apprehensive to try new brands, not knowing where to start, where to buy them, what to pair them with, which creative garnishes to use, and without any knowledge of the history of these new gins. The Gin Box is about indulging South Africans to the multitude of local gin brands, their unique stories and how best to enjoy them. After all, if you’re going to offer a drink like gin, there’s only one way to do it – with real flair and finesse.