Amabala Nguni Dry Gin
Nguni cattle play an important cultural and social part in many South African’s lives. Famous for their variety of multi-coloured hide patterns and different horn shapes, these cattle are the pride and joy of their owners. In KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu people have a particularly poetic naming practice for their cattle, often related to the birds, animals, insects and plants that they encounter on their grazing lands.
Amabala is a description literally meaning “spotted” and refers to a white Nguni with black spots, some of which may be large or fine and speckled, sometimes so dense to be described as mottled.
Just as the Nguni cattle are all individually unique in colour pattern, Amabala gin is produced using a variety of traditional, heirloom African grain varieties and botanicals. Our Zulu Rainbow maize and sorghum is grown by small scale farmers from a community in the eMakhosini Opathe Heritage Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal, also known as the Valley of the Kings. Incorporating these ancient grains in our fermentations allows us to craft a truly distinctive and uniquely African Gin. It is a traditional dry gin with juniper berry, angelica root, sweet orange peel, coriander, cardamom with a contemporary twist of lemongrass and umsuzwane; making this one of the most refreshing gins in Africa.
Umsuzwane: Our Signature Botanical
Part of the Verbenaceae family, umsuzwane (Lippia javanica) is a hardy shrub with aromatic leaves and small clusters of white flowers. It is also known as lemonbush, giving the gin its distinctive lemon undertone in both aroma and flavour. The plant is widespread throughout large parts of Southern and East Africa – ranging from the Eastern Cape and northwards into tropical Africa including Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya.
Umsuzwane is well known medicinally to many African people. The leaves, twigs and roots are used in traditional medicine by the Xhosa people (who call it ‘inzinziniba’) as a general health tonic and to treat coughs and ‘flu.
It is also used in ceremonies to ward off crocodiles, lightning and rabid dogs – and you wouldn’t want any of those interfering with your G&T!