Craft Gin in KwaZulu-Natal
Gin is a rather interesting beverage, both historically and flavour wise. I would almost call it the magician of beverages. It can taste like medicine or come with subtle flavours of botanicals woven through it. It can change colour and it can even enhance flavours. Hence, the magic 🙂
The invention of genever – a Dutch gin; dates back to the before the 17th century where the calming effects were used to give soldiers “Dutch courage”. It was also later used to remedy a number of ailments for kidneys, stomach and even gallstones and gout.
Gin drinking sprang up in England where the government allowed unlicensed gin production and gin shops became all the rage in a period known as the ‘Gin Craze’, mostly due to it’s affordability and availability alongside beer.
So why the lesson in Gin? It has certainly increased in popularity in the last year where artisinal gins and craft gins have sprung up from breweries and their artistic counterparts. I have found that in Summer, the specific bite that gin provides as an adult beverage is particularly refreshing. I have also noticed that gin bottles are definitely the prettiest and have some pretty creative designs. Some may comment this is some type of lure. Which I would then counter, it seems to work well.
I know that gin is generally derived from juniper, but what I would like to know is; are there different types of gin, or is it just variants on the same thing?
According to the European Union (and wikipedia), gin has evolved into four different categories. These being:
Juniper flavoured spirit drinks
- the earliest class of gin produced from pot distilling a fermented grain mash and redistilling it with botanicals to extract the aromativ compounds
- the juniper flavoured spirit made by adding approved natural flavouring substances to a neutral spirit. The predominant flavour must be juniper.
- produced by re-distilling ethanol in stills traditionally used for gin, in the presence of juniper berries and other natural botanicals provided juniper is the predominant taste.
- Obtained excluisvely from ethanol who flavour is introduced exclusively through re-distillation in traditional stills of ethanol in the presence of all natural plant materials. It may not contain added sweetening exceeding 0.1 grams of sugar per litre of final product or colourants or any added ingredients other than water. This is often referred to as a ‘dry’ gin.
Where can I find craft gin?
So when I decided to try out a gin tasting experience, the weather decided to not play ball. Cold, rainy and windy. When you’re used to gin in Summer heat, this is a departure from the norm.
Enter the Bierfassl. This is a well known Midlands eatery renowned for it’s Austrian and German food offerings as is served at Ski Resorts in Europe, as well as its comfortable sized food portions. The restaurant was established in 1999 and Sean Wakeford has kept the people flocking in with the different food and beverages that they offer as well as a cozy and jovial atmosphere.
On offer in the line of beverages are the craft beer, craft cider and craft gin as well as the usual offerings. When I ask Sean why gin tasting, he says that he wanted to offer something different to the local market and that it is something that there is a demand for. Rawdons now produces two local gins, which are served on tap at Bierfassl in the London Dry gin style.
Marlaine from Marz Musings traveled along with me as a willing participant for the day.
The magic in the our gin tasting is ably provided by Six Dogs Distillery blue gin. The gin theatre is provided by the colour change from a blue to a gentle rose pink as you add the tonic.
And that is the only the start of the fun. The platter consists of two different tonics and plated botanicals you can add to affect the flavour. Our first ‘paddle’ included Six Dogs Blue gin, Durban Dry gin and Cape Town Rooibos gin. The Shining Star is definitely Six Dogs Blue gin.
We had particular fun sampling the gin with a selected tonic, then adding either grapefruit, or cucumber, or lemon or juniper berries as we felt the flavour required. As we worked through the different flavours we felt quite proud at our progress. I guess it is like learning about food and what flavours work together, except maybe a little more fun.
Soon, all cold and rain is forgotten, and we are on our way onto our second paddle with some more fantastic flavours.
Our second paddle we sampled Clemengold gin, Inverroche Gin and Wilderness Fynbos gin. This time we had Thyme, lemon, juniper berries and pineapple.
In this paddle, I have to rate the Clemengold Gin as my favourite. The botanicals weaved into the flavour are just delicious.
Where can I find a big selection of gin?
The flavour, the scent and the combination of tonic and a dash of water in the form of an ice cube and a winning combination is born. Bierfassl probably has the biggest selection of craft gin that I have seen and are looking at adding at least another 6 gins to their selection.
We definitely walked away smiling at a truly fragrant experience as well as some new skills garnered.
So if you want to have a fun outing with the girls, a family lunch, or a stop on the Midlands Meander with your biker crew, this is a stop that you should experience at your leisure.
You can contact Bierfassl on 033 266 6320 for more information or to book your spot, which is advisable if you are planning to go there on the weekend.
Until then, see you on the road…