The final stop on my distillery tour was Inverroche which could only be found after a long drive out from the Mother City. Situated in Stillbaai or Stillbay, it’s not called still for nothing. With an off-season population of just 6000, I felt ready to retire there as the slow pace and silence sucked me in. The soft shores and warmer oceans, beckoned to me, begging for me to stay. It’s a wonder I made it back out!
In spite of the stillness, it is Lorna Scott; the mastermind behind the institution that is Inverroche who has managed to keep things lively by bringing in a large portion of tourism to her dynamic distillery.
The interior is decorated like a lavish castle that simply breathes Inverroche from every corner. The Inverroche range comprises of three core gins, namely Amber, Classic and Verdant which is my personal favourite along with well aged rum and a sweet honey-like liqueur. And it is these full bottles of gin that serve as stunning decor, stacked and lined up all around the distillery.
The bar and tables are all marked with the Inverroche symbol signifying the bond between rock and water and perhaps the strength behind the name and brand itself. Delving a little deeper, we were led into the tasting room where we received VIP treatment.
We were given a bespoke two person tasting where we were able to sample the gins and rum whilst exploring the different botanicals. I was fascinated as I tasted flavours I had never before imagined making it a gorgeous sensory experience.
The tasting room
Inverroche obtains most of its fynbos from the biome that can be found in Stillbaai, with many flowering seasonally, careful planning and responsible farming are key.
Each staff member is passionate about the brand and their happiness is palpable. Lorna is responsible for providing work to the locals and they all have equally important duties that come together to form this wonderful distillery. She also has a firm belief in the extension and spreading of knowledge; that it should not just be contained to one person. This is the driving force behind the distilling classes that allow for anyone to come in and create their very own gins. Lorna teaches tastes, flavours and most importantly shares her humble beginnings of distilling on her kitchen table with one tiny still.
Various botanicals before they go into the still
Lorna is passionate about nature, even about regional eels that pass on their own genetic information onto their offspring as well as our own connection to our roots.
Deeply seated in the regional fynbos, this distillery would not be as it is today without it and she embraces and appreciates that fact.
The distilling room itself contains an enormous still that relies on fire to create the beautiful flavour profiles through distillation. Even the rum is aged in barrels from seven years. Inverroche has recently released a ten year old rum that can be found exclusively at the distillery indicating Lorna’s patience and dedication to the craft.
The 7 year old rum
It’s almost improbable to consider that this distillery produces around 50 000 bottles a month, with every part of the production line being managed by hand.
With a place for everything and everything in its place, each worker has a dedicated and individually intrinsic role in the line. It begins with someone manning the filling machines, to someone who checks the gin’s clarity for any imperfections, there are hand labellers, a person in charge of the tamper seals and finally one person to wipe the bottles down to remove any fingerprints and carefully place them into their perfect boxes
The hand labeling process
For owning such an empire, I was blown away at just how down to earth Lorna was. A kind soul who was humble and willing to listen, part of her story began when she lived overseas in Scotland for a while. During their terrible weather, she missed home a great deal and decided to create a taste reminiscent of home. Thus returning to her roots, she came up with the institution that is Inverroche.
The original still sits on the bar reminding her of where she came from and for me, it stood as encouragement to never give up on your dreams.
For more info on Inverroche check out their website and if you do happen to be in the area, I would recommend booking a tasting because the experience is memorable.
To check out the full video of the distillery tour which includes an interview with Lorna Scott, you can click here