What did you do before creating your gin?
I am currently a CFO for a leading telecoms organisation and I am a serial entrepreneur in multiple sectors. Prior to this I financed, built and operated the first luxury supermarket in Malawi and I was an independent consultant working with leading brands such as EY and Amey.
What made you decide to create your gin?
My journey to find a purpose in life eventually led me to Malawi. I quit my job, cancelled all my direct debits and my rent. I moved to Malawi, raised $1m in finance, built and operated the first luxury supermarket in Malawi – all while living on a small budget in a country I didn’t know. I fell in love with entrepreneurship, Africa and retail. Whilst I was in Malawi, South Africa and Ghana I tried many Sugarcane alcohol products and I found them delicious, yet found so few in Europe.
I felt very strongly like there was a big opportunity to create a luxurious sugarcane gin, that was made with and influenced from multiple African countries – I knew this would be popular with the African Diaspora, those that have travelled across Africa and those that like the finer things in life.
What's the inspiration and meaning behind the Umodzi name?
We chose the name Umodzi Gin as it means ‘as one, togetherness or unity’ in Chichewa, the dominant dialect in Malawi – this feels so relevant now that we have unified – ingredients, materials, people, skill from across 12 countries on the continent of Africa to create this exceptional product.
Can you tell us more about the distillery and distillation process?
Our product is distilled at Craft Link Distillery in the heart of Johannesburg South Africa – it’s got that hipster vibe to it, creative and fast-paced. The team here have amassed over 50 internationally recognised awards.
Our sugarcane gin is distilled in a pristine Copper Column Still. In our distillation process we recognise the differences between the botanicals we use and distil them accordingly. Our philosophy that gin and the gin drinking experience can be as simple or as complex as one chooses has defined our drive to develop a gin of unquestionable quality and character. We chose to create a complex Gin with Umodzi to get as many ingredients as we could touching many different areas on the continent. We source for quality and freshness and give indigenous suppliers preference where possible.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
Honestly - sourcing the ideal graphic designer for the brand was the hardest part of creating Umodzi Gin. It took four months of trawling through options until he found the perfect agency for the job in Accra, Ghana. We are really proud that this striking design of the Umodzi Gin bottle was born in Africa. We even scoured the continent for a skilled glass bottle maker to conceive the unique black-and-copper foil design, with R&D and persistence we found what we were looking for in South Africa.
The bottle is made from recycled glass and can be used many more times over – yet I believe the impressive design of the bottle may mean people could postpone the recycling. The design of our bottle is so striking that we believe many can find another use for the empty bottle as a decoration around the house after they have enjoyed our product.
How would you describe Umodzi Gin in 3 words?
Luxury, Mouth-watering, Vibrant.
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
Neat and on the rocks - kicked back, relaxing in my own space. Or, in a fruity cocktail, when I’m with good people, amazing music and feeling the vibe.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
Umodzi Gin, Ginologist Gin and Malfy Gin. Nothing else for me, otherwise I stock a close friend’s Vodka brand named One True Maverick Vodka, Amarula and Alomo Bitters.
What's next for you and Umodzi Gin - any exciting plans?
Next we launch in South Africa during November 2021 – we can’t wait to get going here, it’s a big market for our brand. After this we’ll be onto Malawi and this will feel like the home coming for us, then Ghana. I expect to expand the range with up to two more flavoured Gins. The distillery also has the capability to develop rum which I have an appetite to consider exploring in the future.
The long term vision for Umodzi is to inspire more unity across Africa and the world. Our ambition is for Umodzi to significantly contribute towards creating more opportunities in Manufacturing and Logistics. I strongly believe in re-birthing manufacturing processes on the continent through Umodzi. It is integral to the long term growth and recognition of the brand and it’s fundamental to empowering Africa – a core belief of our brand.
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Review: Read our tasting notes and review of Umodzi Gin.
Buy: Order from Umodzi Gin or via Master or Malt or Amazon.