Cape Town is home to several craft gin distilleries, producing unique and innovative gin flavours using locally-sourced ingredients. We recently had a visit from the team at Six Dogs, who hosted a gin tasting at Ocean View House.
The origins of Old Tom can be traced back to the 17th century in the Netherlands, where a juniper-flavoured spirit called genever (the Dutch word for juniper and the origin of the name ‘gin’) was popular.
Soldiers fighting in the Low Countries brought the spirit to England and quickly gained popularity, particularly among the working class. By the 18th century, gin had become a popular and inexpensive drink in England, leading to a period of heavy consumption known as the “Gin Craze.”
In response to this, the British government passed a series of laws to control the production and sale of gin, which led to the rise of illegal gin production. This period also saw the development of a more refined and higher-quality gin known as “Old Tom.”
With the advent of new technologies, gin production changed dramatically. The Coffey still, which allowed for the mass production of gin, was invented in 1831 and produced less expensive, lower-quality gin.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in craft gin, with small distilleries using traditional methods and unique ingredients to create a wide variety of gin styles. This has led to a significant increase in the number of craft gin distilleries, both in the UK and internationally, and a renewed appreciation for the craft of gin-making.
Six Dogs is one such exemplary example. The brand was founded in 2010 by a group of friends who were passionate about gin and wanted to create their own unique blend of botanicals. Made using a combination of traditional and locally-sourced ingredients, including juniper, angelica root, coriander, and various fruits and herbs, Six Dogs is distilled using a traditional copper pot still and is bottled by hand. Six Dogs gin is known for its unique and complex flavour profile, which has won it several awards.
In addition to their original gin, Six Dogs also produces a navy-strength gin, a barrel-aged gin, and a gin liqueur. The brand also offers gin-making workshops and tastings, allowing visitors to learn more about the gin-making process and try different varieties of Six Dogs gin.
Widely available in Cape Town, Six Dogs Gin has also been exported to other countries and is considered one of the best craft gin distilleries in South Africa, and it’s a must-try for gin lovers visiting the city.
In addition to this brand, many popular craft gin brands in Cape Town offer tastings and tours, allowing visitors to learn about the gin-making process and try different gin varieties. Popular bars and restaurants in Cape Town also feature craft gin on their menu, allowing visitors to taste a variety of local gins.