The more I dig deep into this food and drink job, the more I realise how popular and complex it is. Week in and week out we meet interesting South Africans in the food and drink business and they have interesting tales. From the backyard craft beer brewers to the top brass at SAB.

One of the most rewarding experiences has been meeting Simone Musgrave, the lady behind Musgrave Gin. If you know your gin, you must know Musgrave Gin.

As a well-travelled individual, Simone got to be exposed to the world of crafted gin to the point where she discovered that consumers enjoyed their drink with an authentic story. Having found out about her own roots, and being exposed to the world of gin, it was inevitable Simone would tell her story, and she did that through Musgrave Gin.

“The story is hinged on my grandfather, Maurice Boon Musgrave, a missionary who left Plymouth, England, for Africa in 1949. I retraced his footsteps from when he left to when he arrived here,” said Simone.

The story, she found out, included her grandpa navigating the harsh oceans for three months with a small baby with measles and seasickness. His relentless desire to start a new life under the African sun inspired what Musgrave Gin stands for - adventure and courage.

The product is hailed for its unique combination of cardamom, African ginger and grains of paradise. She never toyed with any other name, as the gin was inspired by her grandfather.

“It was always going to be my family heritage story and my surname,” she said.

As with most industries, gin is dominated by men, and Simone acknowledged it meant working even harder to break that trend.

“The spirits and alcohol industry is very male-dominated and it does require some chest-puffing to involve oneself and be taken seriously within it,” she said.

There were other challenges, which come as a result of the existing competition.

“Our biggest challenge is competing with the big alcohol groups like Distell, Pernod Ricard and Snell, who are able to pay bars, restaurants and hotels large amounts of money to list their products,” she said.

Musgrave Gin has two products on offer, the Musgrave 11 Crafted Gin and the Musgrave Pink Gin.

“Both gins are made in the same way with different botanicals giving them their distinctive flavours. The process is part maceration or “soaking” of the botanical, followed by a vapour infusion method which allows the vapour to take on the flavour of the botanicals. This is all done in ‘Mildred’ pot-still.

“The difference between Musgrave 11 and Musgrave Pink is we soften the spice by reducing the cardamom, ginger, juniper and grains of paradise in the Pink Gin and add rose hip into the distillation, after which we then infuse it with rosewater,” she said.

“Musgrave pink is our most popular and one of the South Africa’s most popular gins. I think this makes sense in terms of the love for pink drinks. Both rosé wine and pink bubbles have grown massively in popularity. Musgrave Pink is also unique in that it offers the female consumer a much-needed choice of buying something beautiful in the spirits category which has been lacking.”

To those who love their food with some G&T, Simone had suggestions of how to pair food with Musgrave.

“Musgrave 11 is great with spicy food, and Musgrave Pink works beautifully with soft creamy cheeses and dark chocolate, but it’s the botanicals in gin that will determine the match to food, she suggested.

The product is doing well on the local scene and is set to do even better internationally.

Musgrave is available in South Africa nationally across most major retailers and smaller wine and spirit shops. “We are also exporting to Belgium and Ireland, and the UK will go live in April,” Simone revealed. “US discussions are also in progress.”