The Gin School at the Indaba Hotel recently launched their new three-month partnership with local brand Milorho Hand Crafted Gin; Ryan Enslin discovers what this small batch gin brand is all about.
Going to the Gin School at the Indaba Hotel is always a memorable affair. The room lures you in with warm copper hues from ancient-looking stills, an array of botanicals are neatly laid out in little glass beakers, and there is more gin to satiate your gin-o-clock routine than you actually require. So when the opportunity arose to sample the new brand on offer at the school, I was in.
Milorho Hand Crafted Gin is a true lockdown story. Founder Lukhanyo Ceza, an accountant by training, developed a gin during the downtime the lockdown gifted us to keep himself busy. The thing was, his friends rather enjoyed his distillation too, and he soon realised he was onto a good thing. Signing himself up for a gin-making course as restrictions began to ease, he told me his brother was his trusty taste tester of the creations from his home still.
Today the small-batch gin brand has grown to include three styles, the original Milorho Classic, the hibiscus flower-infused Milorho Pink and the warm amber-hued Milorho Wooded.
Lukhanyo led the tasting as we started by sampling all three styles neat. Yip, that may be a bit weird to staunch G&T fans, but experiencing gins neat allows for a heightened appreciation of the aromas from the botanicals used in each. ‘The flavour profiles of Milorho Gin are so complex and delightful they are perfectly savoured neat,’ Lukhanyo later told me.
The Milorho Classic starts with a hint of citrus, which soon gives way to more dusty, floral notes. Elderflower makes itself known as it transitions to a more subtle note with ever-present juniper. The classic is a refreshing gin, not so overbearing as some brands tend to be, and rather drinkable. Lukhanyo paired the Classic with a delectable chocolate ganache truffle to complete the flavour journey.
The Milorho Pink starts as the classic offering but is further infused with hibiscus flowers, resulting in a beautiful, natural pink blush colour with tart floral aromas. On the nose, I experienced herbaceous, slightly waxy juniper and citrus zest, while the palate celebrates a few of the more traditional gin-like notes. The finish is long and generally floral, but never sweet. Lukhanyo paired the Pink with delicious citrus-infused chocolate to compliment his floral creation.
The Milorho Wooded, my favourite on the night, is wooded in French Oak, resulting in a warm amber colour. On the nose, you will delight in herbal sensations accompanied by juniper. Also, look out for notes of vanilla, pepper and a subtle spiciness as you take in this magnificent creation. Root spices and pine-forward juniper form the core of the mid-palate. Lukhanyo paired the Wooded with salt-infused dark chocolate to bring the botanicals to life. Due to the complex flavours in the Milorho Wooded, it is best served over ice with a dash of orange peel, or neat, but it will work just as well in a gin cocktail. I enjoyed this style neat, somewhat reminding me of an indulgent Glenmorangie 12-Year-Old.
Milorho stems from the Xitsonga language and means dreams. All botanicals are hand-picked here in South Africa and include elderflower, fresh juniper berries and an assortment of eight other botanicals which deliver a distinctive taste. As a passionately crafted gin using the vapour infusion distillation method, Lukhanyo’s lockdown dreams have resulted in three very favourable realities.
The Gin School at the Indaba Hotel in northern Joburg offers daily gin tastings from Wednesday to Saturday, 11h00 – 18h00. A Gin Master Class is hosted on a Saturday, during which you will learn to distil your very own bottle of gin, a great addition to your home gin collection.
Follow more of Ryan’s adventures here.
Pictures: Ryan Enslin