Elephant dung filters botanical blend for South African gin maker

HOEDSPRUIT, South Africa, Feb 17 (Reuters) – One of the joys of crafting gin is sniffing the fragrant botanicals, fruits and seeds used to create the aromatic spirit – though not usually after they have passed through the digestive tract of an elephant.

Yet that’s exactly what Les Ansley does when, rummaging through the South African wilderness, he finds a prime specimen of elephant dung, holding it up to his nose to inhale its complex aroma before packing it away. to make a high-end alcohol.

Launched in 2018, Indlovu gin – named after the regional Nguni word for elephant – has expanded to the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ansley and his wife Paula now export 1,500 bottles a month. Since the start of this year, two of South Africa‘s biggest retailers, Woolworths (WHLJ.J) and Pick ‘n’ Pay (PIKJ.J), have been stocking it.

The elephants do the job efficiently, finding the variety of herbs and fruits that give the gin its taste, Ansley said.

“Elephants, because they digest so little…they have a very fast gut transit time, low gut bacteria and very poor absorption,” he told Reuters TV.

“So they’re great at extracting all the plants…they’re very selective…they can pick out the best leaves and the best fruit and the best flowers and the best plants.”

In addition to basic gin ingredients such as juniper and citrus, the dried and washed elephant botanicals change with season and climate, imparting different flavors to different batches. The date and coordinates of the dung collection are indicated on the bottles produced, specifies the distiller.

The couple donate 15% of the profits to an elephant orphanage, another reason it may appeal to consumers besides the novelty.

But what does elephant dung-based gin taste like?

“It’s earthy,” said bartender Johanna Jones, squeezing an orange into the gin to make a cocktail. “That’s what makes it different.”

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Reporting by Sisipho Skweyiya; Written by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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