Six Dogs Distillery qualifies for the prosaic expression “nestled away in the mountains”, but not in an attempt to make the language sound colourful, rather because it was really quite difficult to find!
We spent the majority of the car ride wondering if we were lost as we ambled past herds of cows, mountains hugged by clouds and vast rolling fields. Fortunately we came across a Six Dogs sign, indicating that our endeavors were not in vain, as we turned onto the long farm road.
The sign that guided us on our way
Pulling in, we were greeted by a number of small, yappy dogs and two horse-sized Great Danes. It was a relief to discover that they were gentle giants and the only thing I needed to fear was being toppled over whilst being sniffed and nuzzled by the equine statured leviathans.
Making it past the six dogs, I walked into the distillery and got to meet Charles Bryant, co-owner of this booming distillery.
We got to talking and I soon learnt that Charles began his alcohol journey not with gin, but with wine. Charles and three of his friends attended a wine making course which somehow ended with only one of them being successful – hint, it was not him. But every challenge in life can become a lesson that may or may not aid you at a later point in life, if only you are willing to learn. And this is exactly what stood at the root of Six Dogs. A not so successful wine maker, took his knowledge and turned to gin instead which became the booming empire that it is today.
The gentle giant
Inspired by the magnificent Karoo region, the Six Dogs Karoo gin contains citrus notes matched with a number of fynbos varieties. The Distillery makes use of and supports many local farmers when sourcing their botanicals, importing only where necessary. As I have said all week, this is one of the best local gins that I have tasted and my boyfriend (who, much to my disgust says that ALL gins taste like Gordons) even ended up buying a bottle himself without any coercion from me (I promise!)
This gin has ranked highest in various blind tastings and just one sip is enough to explain why.
It is a smooth, refreshing gin comprising of the perfect combination of gin botanicals.
Their two amazing gins
The techincal perspective
If you look at a bell curve of gins, you will note that the majority contain three primary ingredients; juniper, coriander and angelica root. Many also contain liquorice and cinnamon in some form or another. The gins with these flavour profiles are usually at the very top of the bell curve as they are the ones that people return to time and time again.
From there, you get the standard deviation which is comprised of interesting gins with unusual flavours and botanicals. These include spiced gins, Rooibos gins, colour changing gins etc. These are always worth exploring and tasting but more often than not, you are likely to have just one of these gins and then return to your fail safe gin with the more common botanicals.
What is special about Six Dogs gin is that they somehow manage to be both outliers (Six Dogs Blue particularly) and at the top of the Bell Curve simultaneously. They taste nothing like the more common gins yet when you order and finish one, you are more than likely to order another and another. They go down waaaaay too easily which is both satisfactory and terrifying at the same time.
My favourite gin
Six Dogs Blue gin is on its very own level of perfection. Obviously now, many know the Asian Blue Peaflower for its magical colour changing capabilities. However when Charles experienced this flower in the form of a royal blue tea, he was not aware of the reaction to acidity that alters the colour from blue to pink. That was only discovered after they brought the flower home to experiment with it.
The flavour profile of Six Dogs Blue is entirely out of this world. Even though Charles described parts of it as being reminiscent of lucerne which conjured up images of hay, his more sophisticated portrayal of freshly cut grass combined with rose leafs was far more pleasant and apt. It is a beautifully sweet gin designed for sipping at poolsides, in the bath, on the couch, at picnics, whilst braaing, in summer, in winter and any other time you can think of.
A batch of Six Dogs Blue labeled by hand
All of the distillation, bottling, labelling, corking, sealing and packaging is done on site and by hand. I find it incredible to think that when I buy a bottle of Six Dogs, it was been made just so by the hands of the Six Dogs crew.
With the chilly weather setting in, and the desire to go out dwindling, my recommendation for the coming winter is to do yourself a favour and buy a bottle of Six Dogs. They are available in most bottle stores and can also be found on their website https://sixdogs.co.za/
Charles bottling Six Dogs Blue