Bring out your inner mad scientist: experiment with unique spirits + meat cuts
Make your unique brand of gin
At Distiller’s Union you get to also pick the flavour, colour + do a beer tasting with Sweet River Brewery
Love for wine starts when you know your wines. That’s true for gin and craft beer, too. At Distiller’s Union, a working distillery, you don’t just taste great gins, you get to distill and design your own gin. From choosing the alcohol percentage, flavor profile and colour, to designing the bottle, you and friends will each walk out with a specially designed bespoke bottle.
They host regular gin-making and gin and beer-tasting events on Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. Image: Distiller’s Union
TOUR THE DISTILLERY ON THE WEEKENDS
It’s a packed 2-hour experience, so if you’re taking a group of friends or organising a bachelor, bachelorette party, consider making it a Saturday or Sunday.
You’re in a working distillery, so there’s artisans in action all around you. Climb to the top of the wooden spiral staircase for a birds-eye view of the whole distillery, where everywhere is the sweet malty smell of Sweet River Brewery’s beer brewing.
Tour the distillery while you're there. Image: Distiller’s Union
On that floor are 6 long, wooden tables and benches on either side, each with their own set of stills, where you’re going to create your concoctions. You’re greeted with the Steelworks cocktail and plate of snacks. Once settled, Simon von Witt, treats you to an engrossing history of the gin craze: From Holland, the birthplace of gi, to England and Cape Town, and then he schools you on gin-making.
Simon is the creator of 5 Pence, a tonic water and non-alcoholic G&T called James Benson. Image: Distiller’s Union
PRODUCE YOUR OWN FLAVOUR PROFILE
Juniper might be what makes your drink a gin, but it’s the botanicals that give it flavour and personality, and every single gin is different because of them.
You are given a guide book with detailed descriptions of each flavour and how they pair with others. Image: Distiller’s Union
Then it’s time to play. To make a tipple that you actually want to drink (or present as a gift), you need to bring your personality to the party. You need to understand the scents and flavours you like. Whether you enjoy the citrus undertones of a sweet and fruity gin, or the botanical fragrance that comes from juniper berries, the spicy notes of coriander, peppercorns or ginger peel.
Each of these natural ingredients are stored in little, antique-looking glass bottles of alcohol solutions, and peppered on the tables for you to pick and play with.
You will be guided along the way to help you create a well-balanced concoction. Image: Distiller’s Union
EXPERIENCE THE ART OF DISTILLING GIN
After measuring your ingredients with a syringe (to equal 100mls in total), your ingredients are ready to go into your mini copper gin still with your base spirit. The flame underneath the pot creates tiny drops of clear liquid which drips into a collection glass underneath. That's your gin in the making.
Your gin-making experience comes with a snack platter of olives, corn and biltong. Image: Distiller’s Union
CREATE YOUR OWN BRAND
What are you doing while this is going on? Coming up with a name for your gin and designing your own personal label with the coloured pens and labels provided, chatting, and tasting craft beer.
After about 15 to 20 minutes of distilling, it’s time to decant your gin into a bottle, select your alcohol percentage and colour and label your special gin.
You can make your gin any shade of yellow, pink, blue, a mix of everything, or keep it clear. Image: Distiller’s Union
TASTE SWEETRIVER BREWERY’S BEER
Sweet River Brewery, also at Distiller’s Union, was born out of a “love for all things in the Cape, especially its long history, legendary vistas and famous sweet rivers=”.
A guided and informative beer-tasting experience consits of four 200ml Sweet River Brewery beers, one 500ml beer of your choice and one wood-fired pizza. Their aim, they say, is to present the “uniqueness of the local flora, water, and joie de vivre while providing traditional wood fired pizzas to satisfy the hungriest patron.”
Ranjit Gaind established Sweet River Brewery in 2017. Image: Distiller’s Union
You can sit and marvel at your creation, or mingle on the balcony with views of Table Mountain. At the far end, there’s a large wood-fired pizza oven and a couple of high tables and stools to enjoy your Sweet River Brewery pizza or beer.
Pizza’s from Sweet River Brewery can be ordered with your tickets at R85. Image: Distiller’s Union
WHEN + WHERE TO GO
Distiller’s Union is open: Wednesday to Thursday: 8am – 6pm, Friday to Sunday: 10am – 9pm
Find it: Distiller’s Union | 156 Victoria Road | Woodstock
Book gin tasting/making or beer tasting: on their online website
Please note that to facilitate preparation no bookings will be accepted closer than 24 hours before the event. If you need to arrange a booking time slot that is not available online, email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sarah Jarvis
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