Lekker liquor from Durban and Christmas markets galore
South Africa – make that the world – has gin fever, but when you’re tasting the internationally acclaimed gin of Distillery 031 in Durban and a host of other small-scale hard stuff, then Uber is the only option.
Like many other cities, Durban is making an effort to be more liveable, more community-oriented and more “down to earth”. Artisanal products that tell a personal story (the elegantly packaged version of what you’d get in a platteland home industry) are part of this phenomenon and some of the reasons Platteland highlights a market in every issue, like The Morning Trade on page 138. This market’s founder, Anna Savage, told us about Distillery 031 just around the corner in the Station Road precinct, a small, slightly grungy industrial area that is currently experiencing a mini renaissance.
That’s how we met Jordan Semple, co-owner of Distillery 031, on a Sunday morning! Jordan is in charge of the bar and restaurant, where you can also do a tour of the distillery and taste the products. He told us Andrew Rall, who has always had a thing for rum, started Distillery 031 (a reference to Durban’s dialing code) in 2008 with the idea of making spirits that reflect this city’s “authentic African energy”, climate and eclectic cultures. Andrew could even capitalise on the buzzword “terroir”, because rum and the Brazilian spirit cachaça are made of sugar cane, and KZN is the South African province that cultivates the most sugar cane.
“After visits to Scotland, Britain, France, Norway, Brazil and the US, Andrew had a good idea of how the rest of the world approaches the distillation process. And so he threw himself into boutique distillation, mirroring the boutique beer revolution, which was still in its infancy,” Jordan says.
Almost a decade later, Distillery 031 offers a wide choice of spirits: D’Urban Durban Dry Gin (an exceptional classic London Dry-style gin that was named the best South African gin in 2017 at the New York International Spirits Competition), D’Urban Barrel Aged Gin (the same gin, but aged in French oak barrels), 031 Vodka (made from sugar molasses and distilled 10 times), Água Zulu Cachaça (made from sugarcane juice according to the traditional Brazilian process and distilled in a copper still), Ancestors Absinthe (the controversial “green fairy” in the traditional French style with anise and indigenous African wormwood) and a 10-year-old potstill brandy that is distilled in Wellington.
Now there’s also a vodkabased aperitif series in four flavours: Vanilla & Baobab, Naartjie & Rooibos, Cinnamon & Wild Dagga and Heart of Darkness (a coffee-flavoured aperitif with single-source Arabica beans from the Meru region in Tanzania that contains 30% alcohol).
We also love the two cordials: a traditional Victorian Tonic Cordial, perfect for that refreshing G&T that will help chase away mosquitoes (at least until the bats move into the bat box on page 106), and a Lemonade.
In the pipeline: a Bay of Plenty Spiced Rum, currently ageing in oak barrels – definitely not the kind of rum you’d want to dilute with Coke. We can’t wait to taste it.
Distillery 031 spirits can be bought online at yuppiechef. co.za and cybercellar.co.za.
Tours and tastings take place on Saturdays at 12:00 and 14:30, but with advance bookings groups of six or more can be accommodated any other day. The bar and restaurant are open from Thursdays to Sundays.
Co-owner Jordan Semple at Distillery 031’s restaurant and bar.