Have you ever dreamed of your own gin label? Well, we found the place for you to start. At the Indaba Hotel, Conference Centre & Spa located in Fourways you'll find The Gin School at Indaba Hotel, offering a gin-making experience in partnership with Jorgensen's Gin that takes you from start to finish in crafting your own gin.
First developed by mediaeval monks in Holland as a medicinal tonic, gin has gone through some serious evolution over the past millennium. The spirit became most infamous in 18th Century England when the often toxic concoction known as 'mother's ruin' became the drunk's drink of choice, before gaining a somewhat misplaced notoriety among colonialists for deterring mosquitos.

In the 20th Century this complex juniper-based spirit somehow fell out of fashion, before suddenly in the 21st Century undergoing a major global revival, led by inventive craft distillers who reclaimed the drink and began tinkering with the various botanicals that make different gins so distinctive.
The Indaba Gin School setup. Photo: Supplied.

Your lesson on becoming a master distiller begins with a journey back in time to meet those old Dutch monks with their barrels of juniper dodging the plague. Of course nothing ever could ward off the Black Death, but you'll learn juniper, the essential base ingredient of gin, certainly does have lots of other useful qualities. As do the many other miraculous herbs beautifully displayed in the sensorium at the centre of the schoolroom that your teacher will talk you through.
The 'classroom' space is an atmospherically lit old farm building at Indaba Hotel filled with miniature copper stills, glass tubes, and measuring beakers and to craft your own bottle of gin you need to decide o the botanicals you'll be infusing it with. There's definitely a science to it (this is a school after all), but you will be easily distracted by the aromas your nose chooses and perhaps also the names of some of the botanicals too – rose malva sounds rather nice doesn't it?

Once you master your recipe, it is into the copper stills and the burners are set. The temperatures at which these miniature pot stills function is a fine science so the room is closed for half an hour or so to allow for optimal distillations. Then it was back inside to find your drinks slowly dripping through a swirl of tubes and into a beaker.
There's a science behind distilling your own gin. Photo: Supplied.

The very first part of spirit (known as 'the heads') is essentially poison that has a power to "paralyse you and make you go blind". This is swiftly and safely discarded. A neat reminder that you shouldn't really be trying this straight up at home without a little prior education.

Then comes the 'heart' which will form the final central core of your gin. This is the part you can start tasting. At this point you will either still be convinced of your genius for gin making, or you'll be holding on tight to the idea that botanicals come through at different points and when all that raisin and rooibos you poured in finally emerges, this drink is gonna be banging... hopefully.

Once your beaker is full it's time for the finishing touches. The spirit gets diluted with water in a satisfyingly tall measuring cylinder before you pour the masterpiece into your own special bottle. 


The Gin Masterclass costs R895 per person and includes your own hand-crafted take-home 500ml bottle of gin as well as welcome drinks and snacks on arrival. The school can be booked for groups of up to 24 or there are regular public events, see The Gin School Facebook page for the latest classes and events at the school.

Book for a group (minimum of 6) or enquire about their next public event online at

The Gin School is located at the Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre, cnr Winnie Mandela Drive and Indaba Centre, Fourways, tel. +27 11 840 6600.


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