What did you do before creating Unit 43 Distillery and your gins?
I have been in the metal recycling industry for 28 years and Bruno worked for me as my right hand man. It’s another family business we work in together.
What made you decide to create your distillery, and what's the inspiration behind your gins?
I think Bruno and I both have the same ‘can do’ attitude and have always engineered a lot of the equipment we use in the recycling business. When we started seeing and tasting all of the fantastic new craft gins in the early stages of the gin boom, we knew we had to have a go at producing our own product.
Can you tell us more about your distillery and the still you use?
Our distillery is situated in the heart of an industrial estate in Cape Town. It’s a family owned and run operation with a small staff compliment of dedicated enthusiastic Unit43 ‘family’ members. Our still, along with almost every other piece of equipment and furniture in the distillery was made by Bruno and I, using as much recycled and reclaimed material as possible. Our still is made from a combination of industrial bakery equipment and many, many copper geysers, and it works like a charm.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process and the botanicals you use?
We mascerate half of our botanicals for 12-13 hours before distillation, and with the other half, which are more delicate, they are perched above the liquid in a specially designed botanical basket. Our distillation is slow and takes an entire day to complete. We aimed for a traditional gin with a subtle South African twist. Most of the ingredients are what you would find in a traditional London Dry gin, with the addition of 5 unique and local Fynbos plant varieties giving our gin a slightly earthy, herbal note with definite spicy tones.
What can visitors experience if they visit the distillery?
We don’t generally have visitors to the distillery, but have never turned away the odd interested enthusiast. Friendly hospitality and a gin or two is always to be found at our distillery.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
Legislation in the alcohol industry in South Africa is probably the biggest challenge we had to overcome. The paperwork and timeframes are daunting. Our biggest achievement is definitely being names as 'Best Gin in Africa 2021' in The Gin Guide Awards! Being rewarded for creating something you are passionate about is an amazing feeling
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
Our Original Gin is delicious on its own with an Indian Tonic but is also enhanced with a herby garnish such as Thyme. A slice of Nartjie or Lemon is a good option too. Our Wooded Gin also pairs well with an Indian Tonic or straight over ice as a sipping drink.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
We have a huge amount of gins on our shelves at the distillery. We love tasting all the very different and unique flavours created by very talented distillers at home in SA and abroad. If something new comes out, we taste it.
What's next for you and Unit 43 - any exciting plans?
We have focussed on establishing our Original Gin at home and abroad and are now ready to start developing new products and offerings. Some new equipment is also in the process of being dragged out of the scrap heap and refined into something special.
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