Meet the Maker: Mark Taverner of Silver Creek Distillery
Meet Mark Taverner. Photo by Silver Creek Distillery
When you ponder upon the beautiful creation that is gin your mind does not immediately travel to the deep American South and its prohibition days. Yet somehow, there was one person who fell in love with the idea of the languid southern drawl and making shine by the light of the moon, and his name is Mark Taverner. Four years ago, Mark took a minor detour from the food industry and began his distillery endeavor as one would expect the Southern influence to have dictated – with moonshine of course!
Silver Creek Distillery has been around since 2014. Mark started his journey with Shanna-Rae of Time Anchor Distillery as one of his mentors, as well as Lucy Beard from Hope on Hopkins (both of who have been featured on here before). Even with these local influences, his alcohol has a unique twist to it.
“I did more of my research in the United States,” says Mark, which is what initially inspired the moonshine and prohibition gin brands. “I did all the courses that are available here and then went to moonshine university – it exists by the way – in Louisville Kentucky!”
The moonshine brand
Now I know this is a gin blog but I just wanted to bring to your attention the moonshine brand. Having won five international awards it comes in six flavours; which have each also obtained various 2017 Michelangelo awards. The chocolate won silver, apple pie, bon fire hot cinnamon and salted caramel landed gold and finally charred shine and clear shine won double gold which is highly commendable and speaks volumes about the quality of the pure alcohol when there are no flavours added to it.
Mark at the Michelangelo awards. Photo by Silver Creek
With these worthy accolades behind his name, there could be no doubt that Mark would dominate with the gin run. The Prohibition craft gin was created on the day the prohibition was appealed and they are bottled in the same style glass as the moonshine which helps bring through the theme of prohibition all through the ranges.
When asked to describe the prohibition gin he stated; “it is a new world gin; a happy, fruity gin that is not overly spiced but extremely easy to drink and can be dressed with any botanical. It is not old world or to serious about itself,” which is just what you would expect from someone with such a jovial demeanour.
“You’ve got to be slightly different. I wanted to keep my slightly off kilter character which is why it stays in this bottle so the prohibition story is still there.”
Stunning shot of Prohibition Gin - photo by Silver Creek Distillery
This gin is delicious and I personally loved the cinnamon and lemon botanicals. So much so this I created one of my favourite Sipping with Sam videos using it.
Their pink gin
Mark has also recently created a prohibition pink gin which I instantly fell in love with, obviously.
Infused with hibiscus and rosewater, Mark explains “I have gone the berry route with blueberry and raspberry which gives it a very interesting nose. I think it’s outstanding.”
At this point, I took it upon myself to “sniff” the tasters at 11:30am on a Monday morning. Sniff with my nose and mouth that is. And after just one sip, I can wholeheartedly agree with him. It is a beautiful gin that spells bad news for me because it’s way too easy going down.
This pink gin is hot off the press and has not even been labelled yet. As I bragged on my social media, I am indeed one of the first people in SA to own a bottle. I have to admit that I have already gotten to work on it, but don’t worry, you too will be able to own a bottle of this delicious gin as it will be released soon upon a noteworthy holiday.
Once again, Fitch and Leedes come in as a heavy weight recommended tonic. Not that any of us are surprised. But what is surprising though is that Mark’s personal favourite gin is in fact the pink one. Who would have guessed the strong man driving his branded hummer around who have an affinity for blush drinks?
Mark vehemently disagreed with my suggestion at pairing the pink tonic with the pink gin (I was considering the rose flavour but he was wary of the cucumber) and recommended it instead for the prohibition craft gin. The pink gin is a delicate one and you wouldn’t want to alter those flavours so instead stick to Barker and Quinn or a lovely Indian tonic, both of which will bring the colour through.
To top off this fearsome collection of liquor, it also turns out the Silver Creek distil their own alcohol for the gins rather than bringing them in. The grain spirit is distilled until it is neutral and then these wonderful gins are made.
The distillery itself is situated in Randfontein and it has three stills of varying sizes.
“I’ve got an experimental still where I fine tune everything. Then there is a stripping still which is the hard working one and then we go to the finishing still where we do the final distillation,” proclaims Mark proudly.
Three stills at Silver Creek. Photo by Silver Creek
Where to find them
The retail price does depend on the retailer but they usually go for between R300 - R350.
I was surprised to find out that they will not be putting their prices up with the Excise in April, which maintains their affordable price point.
After the end
Once you’ve finished all of your gin, you can keep the bottle because as Mark says; “They have life after death.” I will personally be putting bubble bath in mine once I have consumed all of the gin which won’t be too long from now.
Mark described this entire venture as “an incredibly journey of discovery.” After having cut his own path in the liquor industry, he said words that brought joy to my own heart.
“The main this is that I’m having fun!”
I don’t think anything else could encompass the gin and moonshine range, this person and my own philosophy on life any better.
And with that, I leave you all to click and buy your own bottle of Prohibition gin to add just a little whimsy to your own lives!