In 2008, after a career directing TV Commercials in London for a variety of international clients, Tony moved to Provence where he began distilling small batch gin with Provencal botanicals.

Irvin, Tony’s lawyer friend from student days in South Africa had been home distilling micro batches of vodka and malt.  He was keen to make whisky so in 2019 they joined forces to setup Primal Distillery in Johannesburg.

The distillery is based at Victoria Yards, an urban regeneration project where arts and crafts in brick warehouses are surrounded by lush green belts of edible plants.

The idea of creating a new brand for which they would make only the finest spirits was very exciting.

We feel very lucky to have found Chris, our young chemical engineer and distiller who now manages most of the distillery’s production.  He has just the right amount of calm patience, is a quick, keen learner, and good-natured. Feels like a good fit.

Sadly, after a long illness Irvin passed away recently.  Chris and Tony remain very much  attached to Primal and its future as a fine spirits creative hub with a growing following.


We are one of the very few distilleries who make their own neutral spirit from scratch. Our sustainably grown hard red wheat is milled, mashed and fermented by us. It is then triple distilled in our column still to create the vodka base spirit of our gins.

Essentially gin is a flavoured vodka with juniper, and a range of other botanicals. The choice is vast. Just like in cooking. We wanted to create gins with distinctive flavour profiles, that have a very local identity which makes them stand out in a busy market. The highest quality of ingredients, subtle balance of flavours, lots of testing, patience and determination are in every bottle we produce. We source heritage, indigenous plants and fruits like the Rex Union orange. Many of our herbs are grown right outside our distillery.

We look forward to developing other new spirits with the same degree of artisanal rigour and enthusiasm.