Gin is a distilled spirit with a rich history that can be dated as far back as the 11th century. Through a natural evolution spurred on by necessity, flavour trends and pure chance this delectable drink has seen countless variations across the globe. In South Africa, something special in the world of distillation was born and has been an inspirational ripple of sincere originality in the world of spirits since its conception.
Lorna Scott, founder of Inverroche returned to her home in Still Bay after a vacation with an unusual souvenir – a two litre copper distillation pot ceremoniously dubbed Mini Meg. Lorna had been exploring ways to share the story of her home region whilst creating work for local communities by using their immediate surroundings, and on her Still Bay farm the most prominent natural resource is Fynbos (meaning “fine-leaved plant”) – A family of low, evergreen shrubbery found predominantly in the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are close to 9000 species of Fynbos, 6200 of which are unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom, and have been used by one of the earliest-known communities of pre-historic humans for medicinal purposes.
Using Mini Meg, Lorna and her son Rohan spent nearly three years exploring, setting and refining the method that would ultimately lead to their three unique distillations – Classic, Verdant and Amber, which still forms the Inverroche range today. The introduction of Fynbos in their distillations introduced a subtly complex range of flavours and aromatic profiles that uniquely encapsulates the story behind this label. Jumping to today, with the capabilities of Mini Meg being overwhelmed by demand, the 1000 litre Magnanimous Meg has taken over the duty of being the heart of their Brand Home and continues to create the beautiful batches pioneered by her ancestor – albeit in somewhat increased volume.
Further pursuing their passion of intimately sharing the story of their home, their primary objective, the Inverroche Gin Sensorium and School was introduced in December 2017. This allows guests of the distillery to spend a day with their expert distillers tasting, sampling, snacking and learning all there is to know about the world of gin and the undeniable milestone set by Inverroche within it. Perhaps the highlight of our time there was the lesson in distillation, where guests – or rather pupils – of the School are given the opportunity to create their own, once-off distillation. With the ever-present help of their master distillers, guests can pick out their choice of botanicals and modifiers to add to the five base botanicals that form gin. Whether you sprinkle in some honeybush, fresh strawberries or chocolate chips is up to you and, through using the knowledge gained from the lessons and tastings help keep things balanced, a tightly packed muslin bag is eventually excitedly dropped into your own distillation pot and the heat applied to kick off the process. A few more lessons on cutting the distillation and some patient monitoring later you have your Heart Cut – The portion of the distillation that forms the main body of your gin. It is important to discard the first bit of distillation, known as the Head Cut, as it is simultaneously foul-tasting and quite detrimental to your health. A few calculations here, a dash of water there, before you know it you have a perfect bottle of your own personal, limited edition label gin.
Inverroche takes its name from the combination of two words that pay homage to the Scott ancestry, referencing both their Celtic and Gaelic backgrounds. The Scottish word “Inver” meaning ‘a confluence of water’ and the French word “Roche” meaning ‘rock or stone’ are the very elements that have come together in Still Bay to create the conditions necessary to make these world class, one-of-a-kind craft gins.
Perhaps what makes Inverroche so special, both in the overall experience of visiting their distillery and in simply just enjoying their gins at home, is the undeniable passion that lies behind every last member of their team, which shines through the entire process. From the moment the wood-burning fire is lit under Magnanimous Meg, to every last bottle being labelled and numbered by hand, to these distillations being enjoyed across the globe the love for their home, its rich history, their craftsmanship and the environment around them that makes it all possible is seen to be the standard by which they hold above all-else as they continue to irreversibly carve their names into history as something truly special, in the realm of both creative storytelling and gin distillation.
Find out more about Inverroche here | inverroche.com