With South Africans being internationally renowned winemakers, it was just a matter of time before those skills spread to other beverages. First came the craft beers but, over the past three years, it’s the local gin scene that has really exploded, particularly in the Western Cape.
Now an innovative collaboration between Protea Hotel by Marriott Mossel Bay and Inverroche Distillery has resulted in the opening of Mossel Bay’s very first Gin School, an experience set to delight both guests booked into the hotel as well as locals from across the Garden Route and visitors from further afield.
The Gin School is being run in association with the hotel’s already iconic The Café Gannet restaurant, with the school itself having transformed what was previously the Ochre Conference Room into a new venue with a sophisticated warm ambience that enables patrons to sit bar style, lounge on Chesterfield sofas or be seated in a traditional restaurant surround.
Inverroche has become well known for the signature gins that it produces which incorporate flavours from the unique fynbos floral kingdom found only in the Western Cape. Therefore, to enhance the gin-making experience, a fynbos garden has also been established at the school so that visitors can not only learn more about these plants but harvest leaves to use in their own gin creations.
The school will also teach guests about the history and origins of gins, along with Inverroche’s own story, as well as the distilling process and how to create original gin from scratch. Classes are offered twice a day (at 10h30 and 15h00), and can accommodate anywhere from one to 36 guests at a time. Bookings for individuals can be made on the day, but booking in advance is recommended for larger groups.
Gin and food pairings are also offered daily, incorporating everything from light canapés to traditional South African meals, which include lightly smoked rooibos salmon nigiri, and ‘vetkoek’ with bobotie mince and a spekboom chutney.
Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and only a 20-minute drive from George Airport, the hotel itself also has much to offer. Originally built in 1846 and one of the oldest buildings in Mossel Bay, the landmark 38-roomed hotel nestles on the town’s shoreline overlooking Santos Bay beach and the harbour, with the majestic Outeniqua mountains as its backdrop.
Once known as The Post Office Tree Manor Hotel, the stone walls and Mediterranean-style buildings that make up the hotel form part of the Dias Museum complex, which – along with The Café Gannet seafood restaurant – is also home to the popular Blue Oyster cocktail bar.