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. Then it is triple distilled in our column still. Once diluted with bedrock water from the Magaliesberg, it becomes the vodka, or 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 an 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.
Irvin and Tony have been friends for over thirty years. After first meeting during student days in Johannesburg, their careers took them off in different directions. Irvin remained in South Africa, to become a successful advocate, while Tony crisscrossed the world directing TV commercials in Canada, and London, winning recognition and international awards for numerous known brands.
Reunited in London during the ’90s, when Irvin did his masters degree at the LSE, they explored their keen interest in photography and distilling. These complementary passions which combine art and craft gave them many opportunities to experiment with ideas, techniques, and satisfy a need to express themselves. London was the ideal place to develop these skills. Distilling courses led to a distilling obsession which only grew over the years.
Tony had moved to Provence where he began distilling terroir gins from wild ‘garrigue’ (french fynbos) plants. A patient, singular approach resulted in the extraction of some promising gin flavours. Irvin built a column still in his mother in law’s kitchen. It stretched up into the skylight and produced a good vodka.
We wanted to combine forces. The idea of creating a new brand for which we would make only the finest spirits was very exciting. We found the perfect place for this at Victoria Yards, an urban regeneration project in Johannesburg. And so the Primal Spirits Distillery was born.
We feel very lucky to have found Chris, our young chemical engineer and trainee distiller. He has just the right amount of calm patience, is a quick, keen learner, and good-natured, which we aren’t always. Feels like a good fit. We very much look forward to our future creations together.