By juniper! A father-and-son team are flying the gin flag high on the West Coast.
With ‘medicinal’ juniper hooch dating back to AD 70 thanks to physician Pedanius Dioscorides, gin certainly has been around a block or two in its lifetime. But as from 2000 there’s been a ginaissance bar none, with distillers stepping beyond the confines of London Dry and pushing the envelope with baskets of botanicals.
So it came to be that Steve and Jason Wright entered the prolific gin landscape in 2018 from Steve’s home in Yzerfontein. It all started quite innocently, mind you. For his birthday that year, Steve received a 5-liter pot still. He did a bit of experimentation here, a bit there and ta-da: a few good samples of brandy, whiskey and gin saw the light of day. Much to the delight of friends and family who could sample these to their heart’s content.
When Steve’s colleague in Iraq discussed the commercial aspects of running a distillery as per his own successful UK-based craft distillery, matters turned decidedly serious. With retirement on the horizon, he saw this as a neat opportunity to broaden his zeal for distilling. Meanwhile, son Jason could barely contain his enthusiasm to get the distilling ball rolling.
Intent on transforming the juniper-heavy dry gins that pretty much ruled the roost until the early 21st century, the pair came up with a bold forward-style London Dry Gin that swings to the sweet side with Persian Lime, a pinch of spice and lavender notes. Also in the stable is a strawberry-infused gin and a heavenly gin liqueur made from a London Dry base, married with vibrant orange, warming cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
Take a tipsy tour
The quintessentially West Coast distillery officially opened its doors in June 2021. When visiting its pet-friendly premises on the R315 outside Yzerfontein, one gets a true field-to-glass glimpse into gin-making, with a backstory to savour. It’s a brilliant example of the sheer modern alchemy that happens in the countryside when someone gets a good idea.
After an overview of the mashing, fermenting and distilling process, guests will have a tutored tasting – with or without the ambrosial locally-sourced cheese and meat charcuterie board.
As a quality assurance engineer in the oil and gas industry, Steve has spent most of his working life abroad in Nigeria, Dubai, Thailand, Iraq and Bahrain on various projects. Nevertheless, for the past 25 years, his roots have been planted firmly on the West Coast. Working one month on, one month off, he’s over the moon when reunited with his pet African Grey – named …. you guessed it, GinGin – and savouring the placid romance enveloping Yzerfontein.
After studying sports management, ex-PGA professional golfer Jason was golf director at Arabella Golf Club for seven years and then spent two years in property management while biding his time for the liquor licence approval. When not in couch-potato mode relaxing, his wife and two young children keep him pretty much on his toes.
My pet place on the West Coast is Aurora (Steve) and Darling (Jason)
Best restaurant is Gaaitjie (Steve) and Wolfgat (Jason) – both in Paternoster
I love eating home-cooked food (Steve) and seafood (Jason)
My signature drink is peated single malt whiskey (Steve) and wine (Jason)
Open Tuesday – Friday & Sunday 11h00 – 18h00 & Saturdays till 19h00; book: 071 9730358