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Hop on to the craft gin trend

Published Oct 14, 2017


CAPE TOWN - South Africa is seeing a growing trend of craft gin distilleries, especially in Cape Town with the emergence of brands such as Sugarbird Gin, according to Rob Heyns, the founder of Sugarbird Gin.

Heyns said the craft gin trend was on the rise with  R700 million contributing to the collective R19 billion spirits industry in South Africa in 2015 and that it had been predicted that gin alone would contribute R1bn to the economy during this year.

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He said the number of local distilleries had grown from about 19 in 2014 to 30 in past year and the craft gin industry on average generated employment for about 200 people.

Heyns said currently Sugarbird  was a small business, which did not own a distillery and did not do the distribution themselves apart from the product creation, branding and marketing.

He said the craft gin trend was gaining momentum similar to the burgeoning craft beer industry and it  was very rarely that he did not come across a new brand without a week passing by.

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"Our model is to be much more focused on the product and the brand. One of the reasons that craft gin has become very popular is the plethora of ingredients used in gin. You will never find two of the same gins."

Heyns said a lot of the traditional gin drinkers were traditionally older people but now a lot of younger drinkers were coming through. He said South Africa was the fifth biggest consumer of Scotch whisky, which meant the country had a palate for high quality spirits.

Heyns said Sugarbird was born out of an entrepreneurial wish to bring affordable and delicious tasting gin to all and that gin is also a vehicle for female entrepreneurs and offers bursaries to further their skills and launch their innovations.

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"I've always been inspired by entrepreneurship as a vehicle for creative expression and positive change. The idea of Sugarbird inspiring creativity and entrepreneurship in others fuelled me to help bring this product into the public eye."

He said for every 1 000 bottles bought, proceeds would go towards granting bursaries to intrepid entrepreneurs, mostly female and previously disadvantaged, who had an idea that they would like to see bear fruit.

Heyns added that while internationally, the number of women in entrepreneurship had doubled in growth compared to their male counterparts, South African female entrepreneurs only formed 31 percent of the entrepreneurial landscape, according to a report by SME South Africa.

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He said Sugarbird was hoping to provide leverage for female entrepreneurs through the sales of their female-focused, fynbos-infused craft gin and planned to put female entrepreneurs through a two day 'Idea Workshop',which was a fast-paced 'boot camp style' workshop that will teach invaluable tips and lessons on how to take an idea from a thought to a reality.


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