Estate Living Magazine Estate Living Issue 28 April - Page 8

Gins & things South Africa has never been a big gin-drinking nation. As an pouring a drink for customers and seeing their eyes light up as African distillers still need to work on perfecting the quality of they experience one of my cocktails for the first time. Without the base spirit, which can at times lack finish. “While we have doubt my favourite part of this job is serving the products I the most incredible ingredients to work with, we need to put make to clients and seeing their reaction. To educate and more focus on their origin, medicinal uses and their unique convert them into gin fanatics and see the appreciation they heritage,” says Grobler. have for the craft never gets old.” industry, gin is still very much in its infancy, but that is slowly Her formulae, or lack thereof, are obviously working, given that changing, thanks partly to one woman and her determination to last year the distillery’s Westcliff Gin won the Michelangelo put South African gins on the map. Wine and Spirit Award’s top-scoring craft gin. Their Barrel Meet Jacqueline Grobler, a 40-something-year-old mother of two based in Linbro Park, Frankenwald, in Johannesburg. With a background in fine jewellery design, Jacqueline has always had an eye for the unusual and always operates outside of the norm – not believing in anything average. Raised in Centurion, Jacqueline says her dad, who was an engineer and inventor, and her mother, who has always been in the corporate world, both influenced her career in significant but separate ways. At the end of 2015, she began experimenting with unique infusions in glass jars in the family kitchen. She would add alcohol to these infusions and then manufacture them in a kettle made from an old copper geyser. The process quickly evolved Aged Chilli Ginifer Gin won Best International Infused Gin at Gin is also like making perfume and, for me, it is pure alchemical magic Not content to stop there, Grobler started experimenting with gin and vodka and even dabbled in whisky. Making gin was She established Angel Heart Beverages in 2016, and has been selling her gins, which retail for between R 360 and R 400 per bottle, nationwide. a natural flow from liqueur and satisfied her need to really “We are not interested in selling booze but rather in selling the understand distilling as an art. experience,” she says. She goes on to explain how she pours her “Gin is also like making perfume and, for me, it is pure alchemical magic,” she says. “The complexity of working with a live botanical and manipulating the oils to create a specific flavour is quite a heady experience and incredibly rewarding. Gin is such an easy alcohol to drink. You simply add tonic and Angel Hearts won nine awards in 2017, rendering the owner incredibly proud. It is also a huge achievement given that she is a woman playing in the predominately male-dominated alcohol industry, largely run by big and well-established estates. Grobler explains that one of her biggest challenges is having to work extra hard at energy into each formulation and never follows a recipe nor a predetermined formula or process. Instead, Grobler composes her gins very much like a symphony, adding notes that come together to create something unique and quite magical – a matchless taste sensation. resurgence in popularity for alternatives to wine, with an increasing demand for complex cocktails. Gin has a natural fit and is the perfect ingredient for more sophisticated and intricate drinks. One good gin can easily be distinguished from the next, and each has a specific taste profile and a unique scent. This makes gin cocktails interesting, easy to serve and easy to drink, says Grobler. “I think in South Africa it feels as if the explosion of gin onto the culinary and alcoholic beverage scene was very sudden, but gin has in fact been gaining popularity in countries like being recognised as the distiller and not the promo girl. Spain and England for quite some time now and is slowly “People immediately assume I have someone – a man – who varied, and small breweries and distilleries locally are steadily makes my gin. To be taken seriously I have to demonstrate gaining momentum as demand grows, which is a good sign,” that it’s quite possible for a woman to understand the technicalities of a distillery and a factory environment. Science and before long she began making a unique liqueur, which she named Angel Heart. the ADI in the USA, and their Ginifer Gin won silver. In total, This is especially relevant as there has been a massive making its mark here too. The profile of the gin drinker is very she explains. doesn’t have a gender: it’s clean and process-driven, which As a serial innovator with more energy than she knows is in my favour. Without doubt, man y gender stigmas are still what to do with, Grobler has a healthy mix of plans afoot, alive and well in South Africa, but we are breaking them one including launching another small batch of uber-cool gins, by one,” she laughs. named Tincture and Moonshine. Not content to stop at that, Her success is also a sign of changing tastes in South Africa. The domestic gin industry is very different to the rest of the world and very much in its infancy, with only 35 or so local gins on the market. Yet the passion of the locals and the distinctive fauna and flora make South Africa unique, with a vast range of botanicals from different parts of the country with which gin can be infused. she also has plans to develop and introduce a rum to the South African market, and would also like to launch a hugely creative pop-up shop concept and a pop-up mobile bar. Not bad for a woman simply messing around in the kitchen! In achieving world recognition for her outstanding gins, Grobler not only puts the diversity of this country, its madness and its beauty on the map, but also successfully contributes to a slice of citrus and you have a fantastically refreshing cocktail,” “We want people to feel something when they drink our This creates the most wonderful opportunities for developing building and leaving a lasting legacy that reflects what’s she explains. products,” says Grobler. “There’s nothing more gratifying than uniquely South African gin but, according to Grobler, South great about South Africa and its quiet feminine revolution. 8 | | 9