Ginologist’s exceptional technique produces award winning gin

BY GRAEME LUND - MARCH 6, 2018

Ginologist - The background to the origins of gin

Gin has recently seen a tremendous revival. In fact, the last time gin was this popular was back in early 1700’s. The big difference between then and now is that back then, gin was considered a social evil, hence the origin of the derogatory terms ‘gin soaked’ and ‘gin joint’. In fact, gin was so bad 300 years ago that most of its flavour and content was derived from turpentine!

This was not always the case. Gin, or juniper, as it was originally known, was first distilled in Holland as herbal medicine in the 1500s. History records that soldiers drank juniper for its calming effects before battle, hence the term ‘Dutch courage’.

Gin only became popular in Britain when William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones with his wife, Mary, between 1689 and 1702.

At this time, the English government allowed unlicensed gin production, and, at the same time, imposed a heavy duty on all imported spirits such as French brandy. Gin was thus, the cheapest and least controlled spirit available and its production methods became quite dubious.

Gin received another revival in in the 19th century in tropical British colonies where gin was used to mask the bitter flavour of quinine. Quinine comes from a very bitter tree bark, which was the only effective anti-malarial compound at the time. Quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to form tonic water, which resulted in the now world famous gin and tonic.

As one would expect, today’s gin is subject to more rules and regulations than ever before, especially since the European Union got involved. 

There are at least four different legal definitions for gin and any beverage bearing the name gin, must be produced in the manner stipulated. However, the one common rule is that gin is a liquor, which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries, Juniperus communis specifically. 

Most gin today is not distilled from juniper berries, but is based on some other spirit of agricultural origin and then flavoured with juniper berries. Many other flavours may be added provided that the junipers are dominant.

This allows distillers a wonderful amount of leeway and has resulted in today’s gin being one of the broadest categories of spirits with some interesting, exciting and downright fun ingredients.

Today’s craft or boutique distillers have let their imaginations run wild and we now have a massive selection of wonderful gins. Much fun can be had in discovering, which gin pairs deliciously with a particular meal, flavour or mix.

So, we at Home Food and Travel, along with a couple of experts in the tasting, distilling and mixing business, took it upon ourselves to sample some of the amazing small batch, well-crafted gins from South Africa.

Here’s what we found.

Ginologist - Boksburg, Gauteng

While almost every other distiller at our tasting emphasised the use of local ingredients and an artful approach to distilling, Ginologist, as their name suggests, have adopted a scientific approach.

Science just doesn’t seem to be an appropriate adjective when describing food and drink. However, after sampling the amazing Ginologist wares, I can tell you that their formula works oh so well.

For two of us in our tasting group of six, the Ginologist Floral was our favourite. Others at our tasting also sampled the Spice and the Citrus. All received rave reviews.

Ginologist is owned by Matt van Wyk and a Secret Distilling Scientist, whose name they refuse to divulge.

In developing their three gins, the Ginologists have gone to great lengths in sourcing product, flavours and packaging from the best sources around the globe. They have experimented endlessly to find just the formula that they like.

It is no surprise that these gins have won two Gold and a Silver medal at the prestigious international Michaelangelo Awards in 2017.

These gins can be found at almost every gin event around the country or contact them directly to find out more at ginologist.co.za.

Ginologist – Spice

As their website says, this is a truly unique blend of spices including black pepper and grains of paradise, complemented by cassia bark, cardamom and coriander. 

Eugene, one of our tasters, and a distiller himself, says; “Great nose, the juniper and cinnamon are very pleasant and this gin offers exactly the aroma and qualities that I look for in a good gin.”

He adds, “Smooth on taste, spicy with a good juniper berry balance. A citrus based mix or fruit balances this gin completely.” Ginologists suggest the following recipe for your enjoyment: 

Ingredients

  • 37,5ml Ginologist Spice
  • Slice Fennel Bulb
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Top Tonic Water

Method:
Add Fennel & Lemon, muddle. Add Gin & Ice, top with tonic water. Lift with spoon and garnish with Dill.

Ginologist – Citrus

The nose is distinctly citrus as is the taste. To my mind this gin is also perfect neat or on the rocks, but mixes will with an Indian Tonic and cucumber too.

Giniologist say that this gin was perhaps the toughest to perfect for a number of reasons.  

To quote, “First and foremost, we wanted to di?erentiate our Citrus gin from every other gin out there. This was accomplished by using lemon, lime and grapefruit as our lead botanicals, and secondly, by utilising the whole fruit, not simply the zest, to flavour the gin, to create a far smoother and well-balanced gin.”

Ginologist – Floral

This is probably the best spirit I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. From the nose to the aftertaste, the Floral Gin is fantastic. There is no mistaking the floral nose. It reminds me of my grandmother’s perfume and the old fruit pastilles that she so enjoyed.

I particularly enjoy this gin neat or on the rocks. I too have experimented endlessly. In my case with mixes and found that a chunky slice of watermelon with club soda works best. Once empty of the gin and soda, I stuck my fingers indelicately in the glass and hauled out the watermelon. Watermelon spiced with Floral Gin – you have to give it a try.

Ginologist say that this gin is created using both vapour infused and boiled-in flavours. The two main botanicals are orange blossom and rose geranium, both sourced locally, and both, to the surprise of many, are indigenous to South Africa. This is their celebration of South African heritage.

If you liked this article and would like to read more about the other gins we sampled, check out our article on the Angel Heart Beverages.

Contact Franchisee Evann van Rensburg
East Rand contact number 083 226 5607
East Rand email address evann@homefoodandtravel.co.za