If you been following my site for a while, you maybe remember a guest writer that featured on my site back in July 2018, the lovely Yolisa Qunta. Based in Cape town, she sent in a write up on the launch of Cape Town’s Gin Route which I was happy to feature, as it gives a great insight into South Africa’s growing gin scene. Well, I’m pleased as punch to say Yolisa has reached out again as she wanted to share news on a new launch that it particularly special as it has a heritage twist. But enough from me, here’s Yolisa to tell you all about it.
Yolisa Qunta is a wonderful writer based in Cape Town, South Africa and has a fantastic passion for gin. “Yolisa discovered the joys of gin to a trip to Victoria Falls where she was assured that not only was it perfectly acceptable to enjoy a tipple at 11am, but it could also prevent malaria. The latter turned out to be an urban legend but her love for gin continued. She is a published author, freelance writer, editor and researcher based in Cape Town. Yolisa enjoys traveling and taking pictures of all her food for Instagram.” After 3 years it seems that Yolisa is still very much on the gin case! It’s great to hear from her and I’m hoping she continues to keep us updated with gin developments in South Africa. Thanks ever so much for reaching out again! I’m always happy to share what you send.
If you have any enquires for Yolisa, you can email her at: email@example.com.
New South African Gin Has A Heritage Twist
Gin in South Africa has a short but colourful history. Originally imported by British colonialists, it was initially reserved for the elite few. In the last century mass production opened up the country to various imports and it became an everyday drink but rarely produced locally. Until 2015 when the country experienced a gin revolution. Many local producers started making the stuff using classical methods and the industry enjoyed a boom as local consumers enjoyed craft gin with a local twist.
The latest addition to the market is Obrigado Gin which has a fascinating origin story. In the same way that superheroes in movies are forged from unique circumstances this was an unlikely pairing that produced something one of a kind. Kenneth Nzama rose to fame in South Africa as a wildly popular DJ who devoted his time to unique hip hop sets and gained a loyal following nationwide. While he never stopped mixing the decks he began to look for other ways to bring people together. This led to the formation of MNM Marketing, a joint venture with Muzi Mtshali and Tebogo Moalusi. The trio started with music as their roots by providing unique experiences through brunches, documentaries, online parties, live music and Obrigado radio. In 2019, they launched Obrigado Travels, taking 50 people to Brazil for 7 days for a multisensory experience.
The idea for a gin brand came from the desire to create something tangible that consumers were enjoying at all events. “We knew we were entering a market that we did not entirely know so we asked the people from Creation Wines and they had a distiller who could help us” says Nzama. Wanting the same authenticity that garnered them so much loyalty they linked up with Rolf Zeitvogel, German born, third generation Master Distiller. The alchemy created something new not just in South Africa but the world: a gin distilled and rested in Creation Wine Chardonnay barrels, infusing the gin with a unique taste, colour and flavour. It’s the very first of its kind an African Chardonnay based gin. According to Zeitvogel, “it’s not only about the craftsmanship, but also the pride that comes from making the best from the ingredients”. Nzama adds “We took care because we are serious about this and determined to be in the market for a long time.”
In terms of taste profile the gin is created from a delicate balance of Juniper berries, Buchu and honeyed Rooibos. The Juniper adds the signature note both on the nose and on the palate. Buchu is an indigenous South African plant traditionally used for medicinal properties which delivers fruity, slightly musty notes with nuances of sweetness. Rooibos is a herbal tea made from the fermented leaves of an indigenous South African plant. In the gin it manifests as a slightly smoky element that hints more at citrus than tea. Time will tell what the future holds for this bold addition to the market but for now the future looks and tastes bright.