This year’s Spirit Tasting was hosted by the wonderful Brickmakers Distilling Company in Gqeberha and was the best tasting to date.
What made this event particularly special were the quality of the spirits on offer as well as the collective knowledge of the tasters.
Our tasters, all passionate foodies and spirit connoisseurs, included restauranteurs, journalists, distillers, sommeliers and two pharmacists who took the tasting to new heights by imparting their knowledge of chemistry.
The spirits included a wide range of gins, two types of rum (molasses oandsugar juice based), a variety of vodka, one moonshine and whiskies from two different distillers.
The afternoon was both a learned and fun experience and got louder as the afternoon progressed!
Format of the tasting
The format of the tasting remained unchanged from previous years. Essentially, each taster was part of a team of five with each team given six spirits to taste – three gins, a whisky, a rum and a vodka. The five people in each team brought different tasting experiences and knowledge to the group.
Each taster was given a pen and tasting notes for their spirits and they were required to comment on their tasting experience. Each spirit was tasted neat, on the rocks and with a mix suggested by the distiller.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the 2021 and previous tastings was the simplicity of the spirits. In years gone by many of the spirits were very complex, in fact too complex. The taste buds were either overpowered or confused.
In past years too the distillers also recommended a mix, condiment or garnish that tended to overpower the original taste of the spirit.
This year we found that the spirits sent to us were far simpler or less complex. We even found that some distillers had simplified there recipes for the better.
To a less experienced taster this may sound odd, but keep in mind that the top chefs – Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Nigela Lawson to name a few, all produce recipes or serve meals that are simple and have only one or two dominant tastes.
It was also interesting to note that the distillers recommended a very limited amount of garnish or a mix. To give you an example, in years past we were asked to include slices of juicy lemon but this year it was a few wisps of lemon zest.
Eugene Coetzee from Brickmakers Distilling Company took us through a standard distillation process and described how the different stills worked.
Lunga Tukani explained what inspired him to launch his own brand of gin. He has a treuly fascinating story. We were also very lucky to have some of the country’s top distillers – Inverroche, Six Dogs, Pienaar and Son and Hope, give excellent Zoom presentations.
Who contributed to the tasting?
- RHBC – Wawu Tonics
- Six Dogs Distillery
- Brickmakers Distilling Company
- James Sedgewick Distillery
- Kwande Gin
- Porkbush Gin
- Stolichnaya Vodka
- Craft Link Distillery
- Monks Distillery
- West Coast Distillery
- Ginato Melograno
- Sexton Irish Whiskey
- Distillery 031
- Pienaar & Son
- Cape Fynbos Gin
Clink on the link to find out more about each distiller and their wares.