It would be a gin that would defy all odds, a magical liquid seemingly plucked from the mermaid gods themselves, swirling with blue, purple and indigo in one botanical inspired bottle. You see Six Dogs Blue Karoo Gin is not just any mermaid’s fantasy, but a gin enthusiasts wet dream, where colour and taste collide in one magical kaleidoscopic experience, permeated by an intersection of culture, history and agriculture. Ironically despite the blue ‘mermaidville’ hue that transports you into a world where humans and mermaids collide, the term ‘Karoo’ refers to an almost ‘alien-like landscape’, where a semi-dessert terrain is counteracted with extreme weather conditions in an arid and inhospitable climate, crammed with a patchwork from Earth’s historical past. The contrast between the vivid blue of the Six Dogs Blue Karoo Gin and its roots in South African ‘landscape’ might seem like a jagged juxtaposition, but it works; blue gin is not for the faint hearted and neither is its heritage, but those who stick around for the ride are promised one deliciously submersible experience that borders on magical realism.
And so the story begins, once upon a time two brothers had a vision to create something different that would change how people viewed gin forever. Our narrative begins in a seemingly humble garden shed, which was once ruled by Bryant’s six dogs- Obelix, Cloud, Bodrum, Flea,Midget, and Blue- the latter of which inspired the creation of ‘Six Dogs Blue’. But it was Bryant’s wife Marie who inspired him to ‘curate’ new and exciting gins, when a failed experiment with wine turned out to be a precursor for the beautiful Six Dogs Distillery brand that you see today, fronted by Bryant, his brother Glen and his friend Luis in 2013. With the desire to ‘distill’ beautiful plants that lay scattered across the pothole ridden Karoo landscape , The trio set about experimenting with various flowers, plants and fauna, until they found the perfect combination that would define what I like to call ‘Mermaid Gin’, instantly recognized by its midnight blue hue and large imposing bottle. While flowers can be difficult to distill in ‘alcohol’ ( as they cook very easily, taking on a ‘stewed tea taste’), the trio found that by by distilling the more delicate ingredients under glass at room temperature, it would preserve the natural flavours of the ‘Karoo bush’ creating an authentic South African drinking experience.
With 11 beautiful botanicals immersed in Six Dogs Blue Karoo Gin, you would be right in imagining that blue gin is both an anti-oxidant and an aphrodisiac cleverly distilled in one majestic bottle. While lemon buchu, Persian limes and mandarin (grown on a local South African Farm) are known for their anti-infective, antifungal and antibacterial properties, Acacia, thorn tree and wild lavender, which are harvested in the wild are renowned for being prebiotics that soothes irritation and promotes oral health. But you are probably wondering as to how Karoo Gin gets its beautiful ‘mermaidville-esque’ appearance and why the distillation of gin is so superior in quality to many other South African Gins? Well first and foremost before the botanicals are steeped in neutral liquid for 24 hours, to retain that ‘gin essence’ , a delectable combination of juniper, angelica, cassia and chamomile is added to the botanic mix, which is then categorized into ‘heavy’ and light botanics. Heavier botanics are placed into a copper still, while more delicate and lighter botanicals like wild lavender, are placed into a vapour infusion basket, before being watered down to 43% ABV, with the addition of spring mountain water.
Hearing how the trio dedicate their time to crafting the most unique gin that you could possibly imagine,while seeking to fortify the human mind, body and soul is awe-inspiring enough, but it is the transportative journey you undertake when drinking the gin, that takes you into a land where mermaids and unicorns pour happy sprinkles down your awaiting thirsty throat. You can almost picture yourself in mermaid purgatory, which unlike the human experience of a dull, mundane waiting room, is a slow, gradual experience to be savored in small, strengthening gulps. The Blue Pea flower (Clitoria Ternatea), which gracefully lends its colourful mermaid blue colour to the gin, is offset by the citric acid in tonic water like Franklin and Sons which changes its molecular composition from blue to purplish-pink. It’s a riot in the mouth, an explosion of colour and taste, an exploratory journey into mermaidville and back, where the human world fades into nothingness and all that is left are raw emotions of joy, satisfaction and primal basic instinct.
You watch transported by the changing colour of the gin, which fizzes and sparkles with determination and grit. It’s a holiday, a party and a solo’s adventurers dream in a glass, classic dry Gin with experiences of freshly cut lucerne over hand-picked and morning-harvested Rose Pelargonium, ready for the taking. You can smell the crisp zinginess of the lemon buchu wafting under the nose, with more pleasantries than a citric detergent, but it is the mandarin that offers a surprising soft, earthiness, juxtaposed with a hint of sweet, wild lavender that immediately transports you back to days on a lavender farm. To taste, the juniper is strong on the tongue, plugging through the other botanics to take centre stage, but it is the contrast between being ‘tasted neat’ and with tonic water, that surprises you the most. Tasted neat, the gin overpowers your senses, plunged into a realm of delicious debauchery, where rules were made to be broken. Cassia leaps right up on the tongue, a powerful stance without the burn of traditional gin that you are used to, a ring of fire without heat. And don’t even get me started on the sensation of walking through the mermaid underworld, where thorn trees and juniper berries, dance together in symbiotic harmony, like dancers suspended in flight.
But with tonic water everything changes, the gin game shifts. An explosion of botany, technology and chemistry all rolled into one, the passion project comes alive in one tangled puppet show, where the gin connoisseur’s are your masters. You can taste the earthiness from the Karoo bush, a wild adventure on the tip of your tongue, but the botanics overide the gentle earth, with giant pink flowers exploding in your mouth all at once, feeling the warmth of the fizzing liquid pour down your scratchy throat. It’s little wonder therefore that Six Dogs Blue Karoo Gin is so popular with online retailers like Gin Kiosk, who believe that all high quality gins, no matter how big or small should be celebrated in one magical shopping experience. Picking up on consumer’s desires to ‘find the right gin for them’, think of Gin Kiosk as your own ‘Gin Matchmaker’, who thought that Six Dog’s Blue Karoo Gin, would be the gin that would take my breath away and they weren’t wrong. Blue gin is a feast for a mermaid aficionados senses, a ritualistic series of exploratory pleasures, a drink with layers of subliminal meaning. At times arrogant and at other times gentle, the gin recommended by Gin Kiosk, needs no further explanation but a narrative surrounded by magical intrigue, a story where two brothers,a friend and their dogs came together as thick as thieves, to curate a gin that would have customers tongues wagging, even to this day…
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Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation. Six Dogs Blue Karoo Gin is available to buy online at Gin Kiosk.