Being a gin and tonic enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to attend the Indaba Hotel Gin School. There isn’t a whole lot of buzz or reviews online so I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew that we would receive our own bottle of gin and that alone was enough to intrigue me. I thought I’d give it a go and see how it turns out and (spoiler alert) the experience was pretty incredible.
So let the review be-gin
First things first, you can book for the experience at the Indaba Hotel’s website. They will email you back to confirm. Once that is sorted, you can wait in anticipation until the day arrives.
Once the day arrives for you to start making gin, then head over to the Inverroche gin school and find the gin conference room. The road was covered with shades of orange and brown. The buildings were white and classic. The Indaba Hotel is beautiful. It would be great to have been able to explore a bit more. But since we were running very late for the class, we rushed to find the conference room immediately. Tip: Just look for the flags that say ‘GIN SCHOOL’ and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
The evening starts off with a welcome drink in the courtyard. You can sit outside and relax before the class while sipping on your chosen gin and tonic. Once everyone arrives, the class begins.
You enter the conference area where the tables are set up ready for distilling gin. It all looks very exciting and very intimidating. But don’t worry, you will be in good hands. The instructor is there to assist.
Before you can start creating your concoction, you learn all about Inverroche and the different blends of gin you can create. The instructor takes you through a slideshow so it really is like a school class. Except – boozier.
You’ll learn that buying Schweppes tonic is frowned upon by the gin community. Oops. Personally – I just buy the cheapest tonic I can find but that is a big no-no to the gin police.
The Inverroche Gin School Details
I’m now going to get into some detail regarding the class and the process of getting your very own personalised gin. Just bear in mind that I’m no expert and I’m just providing you with very basic steps on how to make the gin. If you want more technical details then you have to go to the class and try it out for yourself!
So let’s start.
There are 5 types of bases to make:
- Floral (Lavender, Rose Malva, Wild Dagga, Kooigoed)
- Spicy (Ginger Root, Grains of Paradise, Chilli, Pink Peppercorn)
- Herbal (Rosemary, Thyme, Cancerbush, Basil)
- Citrus (Lemon Zest, Grapefruit Zest, Baobab, Hibiscus)
- Cool (Cardomon, Buchu, Mint, Aniseed)
It’s not advised to mix and match the bases and just stick to one. Start inhaling the scents from the jars and learning about the bases and deciding which flavours intice you the most. I decided on the herbal base. Next time I will try the spicy base (which is the most popular choice for the gin school-goers).
The process is as follows:
Step 1: Choose your base. Add the contents from the jar to the piece of cloth on the table.
Step 2: Choose your botanicals. You have a wide variety of choices from strawberries, chocolates, lemon zest, toasted coconut shavings and figs. Really the list goes on and you can become very creative with it. Pick and choose and add the botanicals to the base contents.
Step 3: After choosing the ingredients, wrap up the contents and tie the cloth tightly with a string. You don’t want the contents to spill out while you’re distilling your brew.
Step 4: Add the contents into the pot still and let it brew. The instructor will screw on the lid while you are out enjoying the snacks on offer.
Step 5: While it’s simmering, have another gin. This step is imperative. I promise.
Step 6: Once it gets hot enough, the gin will start dripping. (The first 20mls is very strong and you will need to chuck it.)
Step 7: Swap out the container. The alcohol that’s now pouring out is the gin that you will drink.
Step 8: While it’s dripping, use your finger to taste some of the gin. You’ll notice that the gin will taste different each time you taste it. You’ll probably recognise the initial flavours that you chose.
Step 9: The instructor will tell you when to turn off the heat. The process of distilling gin takes roughly 60 minutes in total.
Step 10: Mix the gin with water (unless you want to drink 47% gin). Shake it up 3 times.
Step 11: Pour your mix into your new personalised gin bottle.
Step 12: Customise the labels. You can write the base and botanicals onto the label. Or don’t. It’s yours so write whatever you feel like.
Step 13: You’re now a master gin snob.. errr.. I mean master gin distiller with your very own bottle of gin to take home.
Step 14: Don’t drop your new bottle of gin. I almost did.
Step 15: Taste your new gin at home. I loved how my one came out and I can’t wait to try new ingredients the next time I visit the gin school.
To conclude, I absolutely loved the gin school experience. I’m always on the hunt to try or do something different and this ticked all the boxes. It’s a winner because it involves gin, it was fun and it’s a relatively new concept. I walked away with a really awesome bottle of gin and perhaps a new opinion on tonic water.