Over the past few years, the craft gin craze has thoroughly taken the country by storm. There are gin bars, gin inspired menus, gin festivals and gin distilleries popping up in almost every corner of South Africa – and not that we’re complaining; I mean, who doesn’t love sipping on a refreshing G&T under the African sun?
What makes the various craft gin distilleries in South Africa so unique, is that most of them are inspired by their surroundings – be it the West Coast ocean, the unique fauna and flora of the Cape, or the bush veld – each gin carefully harnesses the uniqueness of its surroundings.
And nowhere does this ring more true than with Knysna Gin. The first and only gin distillery of its kind in Knysna, Knysna Gin has perfectly crafted a gin that is a mouthwatering homage to the Garden Route.
When Rion Merryweather noticed that while there were many locally produced gins from all over South Africa on the shelves, there was no authentic craft gin hailing from his hometown of Knysna.
Realising that something can be done about that, he enlisted the help of his family and so, the family owned Knysna Gin Distillery was started.
The family run business, with Rion his father Bob and wife Kay at the helm, is a true testament of passion, dedication and inquisitiveness.
The Knysna Gin Distillery take great pride in the fact that their gin is distilled in beautiful, Alembic Copper Pot Stills. These not only add to the quality, but is also a sight for sore eyes!
The original Knysna Gin is described by the Merryweathers as a ‘classic gin with an African twist’ thanks to the contribution of their Garden Route surroundings and Rion’s wife, who hails from London originally.
Naturally, being form the so-called ‘gin city’, Kay is somewhat of a gin aficionado and because of her knowledge of good gin, was put in charge of recipe development.
As a classic gin should do, they decided that they want to keep the Juniper the start of the show when it comes to their gin. They then experimented with different African botanicals that would perfectly compliment the Juniper without being overbearing.
They finally settled on a host of botanicals that all blend together in delicious harmony to create this uniquely fabulous gin.
These natural botanicals are then mixed with fresh, spring water to create the Knysna Gin.
The botanicals are sourced from all over the world and South Africa, and include Juniper from Italy, coriander from Bulgaria, almonds from neighbouring Sedgefield, Honeybush from The Crags, Mondei Whitei from Limpopo, cardamom from Guatemala, cinnamon from Madagascar, star anise from Vietnam, Num Num berries from the Knysna Montessori garden, spring water from the Witteberg Mountains and pure cane spirits from Ladismith in the Karoo.
The most interesting ingredient in the gin is the Num Num berries. As a homage to their hometown of Knynsa, Kay specifically wanted to add these berries because they are favourited by the iconic Knysna Loerie.
The Loeries love Num Num berries and it’s easy to see why. These berries are sweet and slightly tart and are rich in a host of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Magnesium, Calcium and Phosphorous.
After the launch of the distillery in November 2018, the space has also become a popular cocktail bar, serving dozens of gin lovers cocktails inspired by Knysna and its surrounding areas.
Knysna GIn also releases limited edition seasonal batches of gin. Currently, the Wild Plum and Pink Plum variations are in season.
As for the future, the Merryweather family plans to continue making their delicious, unique gin as well as branching out to rum, tequila and bourbon, and to keep the locals and visitors of the Garden Route hydrated as they sip their G&T’s under the African sun.
Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is super proud to be stocking this delicious, ‘homegrown’ gin! So next time you fond yourself in beautiful Knysna, you can head on over to us for an authentic Knysna sundowner.
Knysna Gin is also available at select stores around the country – check out their Facebook page for more info here.
While Knysna Gin is best enjoyed as is, straight over ice or mixed with a good Indian tonic and a slice of orange and a sprig of thyme, one can definitely get creative and mix your own, mouthwatering cocktails.
Cheers to Knysna Gin for making a gin that is truly South African and true to the Garden Route – we can’t wait to see what else they bring to the table!