You might not necessarily list South Africa among the world's great gin-producing nations, but it turns out the country isn't entirely without its home-grown craft juniper spirits. And after making some waves in the Cape and beyond, Inverroche is now available in the UK.
The distillery's gins are inextricably linked with its home in Stillbay in the Western Cape, infused as they are with fynbos, the diverse floral vegetation unique to this part of the world. There are three variants, namely Classic, Verdant and Amber, with the latter two getting their names, and colours, from the particular fynbos used in production.
Classic, clear in appearance, has some ripe orange and spice to start, backed by some gentle, sweet floral notes that continue to the palate. Behind this floral, musky, sweet start is a dry juniper backbone. Verdant, with its pale, grassy green colour, is suitably vegetal at first, along with notes of Rose's lime cordial, dessicated coconut, and some peppery, woody spice. The juniper's more evident on the palate on this one, along with pithy bitterness, and some distant floral notes too. Finally, Amber opens with some juicy red fruit aromas and plenty of oaky spice, before a big and characterful palate filled with floral, spicy notes, bittersweet chocolate orange, and some brisk juniper to round things off.
The range is complex and unconventional; Verdant and Amber in particular. Classic is perhaps best suited to a Martini, Verdant to a G&T (with a twist of lemon rind, according to the brand), and Amber to a neat serve, or even a Martinez. Between the three, there's plenty to experiment with.
Museum Wines, Inverroche's new distributor in the UK, is targeting the on-trade to start, with venues like Hawksmoor, Portobello Star and Lime Wood hotel already signed up.
Inverroche also makes a Cape Potstill Rum that we'll be keeping an eye open for. It's made from molasses derived from sugarcane grown on the east coast of South Africa, as well as Madagascar and Mauritius.
£39.99/70cl, Museum Wines, 01258 830122