Hotel Blog

Another local Gin School collaboration: meet Cape Saint Blaize


We're thrilled to welcome another distinguished collaboration at the Gin School.

Since its inception in 2018, the Gin School has partnered with skilled local distillers to bring the best craft gins to the connoisseurs of Johannesburg.

From July to September 2023, we'll have the amazing Cape Saint Blaize Artisanal Distillery in the sensorium for tantalising tastings and fun foodie pairings.

Cape Saint Blaize was founded in 2020 by JJ Moorcroft and is situated in the heart of Mossel Bay, neighboring the Dias Museum Complex with a north-facing scenic ocean view.

After many years of operating a successful restaurant, Café Gannet, and Hotel (Protea Hotel by Marriott Mossel Bay), JJ was looking for a dynamic way to harness the full potential of his property.

The brand aims to celebrate the rich history of its unique property and the greater Mossel Bay. In February 1488 Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, landed in Mossel Bay after being washed around the Cape in a storm leaving him forced to make landfall to replenish his supplies while trying to navigate a sea route from Europe to India. Saint Blaize was actually Mossel Bay's first recorded name and when Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias landed here, it coincided with the Catholic day of St Blaise. He then named it Aguada de São Brás, the Watering Place of St Blaize.

The building in which Cape Saint Blaize is distilled today forms part of the old post office tree square and is one of the oldest recorded business premises in the Southern Cape. It was built in 1846 for the purpose of a warehouse and trading station by the wholesale firm, Barry & Nephews. In 1941 it was purchased by the Golden Ochre company which mined Ochre clay in the Albertina district. The ochre was exported to England and used in the manufacture of paint. Nearly a century later and the Ochre from this era can still be found in the roof trusses of the building today.

Cape Saint Blaize decided to create a brand that was different in its approach to storytelling and as they started brainstorming and looking at different bottle options, they were disappointed to find that none of the options captured the true brand story. They needed something that was historic to Mossel Bay.

In a lightbulb moment, they realised that the ochre powder in their building could be used to make porcelain ceramic bottles. This led to a process called slip casting, where the bottles are cast using a unique mould. The master mould used to create the production moulds was created by a true pottery master. After the bottles have been cast, they are left to dry for 3 days before being fettled by hand. Fettling is the process where all the rough edges are removed. 

 These beautiful ceramic bottles are then fired in a 1000ºC kiln where vitrification occurs. This process takes 24 hours and that is when the magic happens. On top of the Cape Saint Blaize kiln, there is a statue of a cat – this is Lighthouse the Cat, the Kiln Protector!

Once fired, each bottle is quality tested and sanded by hand. These quality tests check that each bottle is free of defects which will affect its performance. Having said that, each bottle is still unique in its own way! Small noticeable differences are what makes each bottle a bespoke piece of art. These exquisite bottles are then filled and labelled by hand, ready for your enjoyment.

A combination of unique local botanicals are used to produce Cape Saint Blaize Gin. These local botanicals consist of wild coastal botanicals as well as organically farmed botanicals. The farmed botanicals are grown on the founder's smallholding at the base of the Outeniqua mountains. This unique biome is what gives Cape Saint Blaize gin its complexity and rich flavour profile. All botanicals are hand-foraged using local labour.

Classic Gin

This vibrant full-bodied Gin has a bittersweet symphony of lime, fragrant carissa, elderflower and wild rosemary reinforced with earthy notes of freshly cut bark, honeybush and toasted spice. Rose geranium and caramelized rhubarb amplify ripe piquant kai apples. Aromatic juniper and pine meet with a late burst of citrus, delivering a slight sweetness with a long dry smooth finish.

This smooth gin is best enjoyed neat on ice or with a quality tonic, curl of lime zest, Cinnamon bark, and a sprig of rosemary.

Floristic Gin

This soft floral pink Gin has gentle aromas of freshly cut flowers, plump strawberries and peppered grains of paradise giving rise to notes of green rooibos and mint buchu. A subtle hint of juniper, coriander, honeyed pistachio, fresh black fig, and vanilla deliver a mouthfeel that is both fragrant and exotic. Rich aromatics of saffron, toasted cinnamon, cardamom, and candied grapefruit peel lead to a comforting smooth finish.

Enjoy this refreshing gin neat on ice or with a quality tonic, curl of lemon zest, strawberry slice, and a bouquet of petals.

Oceanic Gin

This is a rich and woody Gin, infused with coastal lemon pelargonium, sea asparagus, milkwood berries, cold brewed rooibos and the bittersweet salty sour fig, which offers a gentle warmth tempered by lingering fruit flavours of caramelized plum and ripe redcurrant. Delicate floral notes of soft cherry and cassis intertwine, presenting a velvet-like mouthfeel that is berry-rich. Aromas of fresh citrus, crushed juniper, toasted bark, and earthy spice deliver a dry elegant finish.

This warming gin is best enjoyed neat on ice or with a quality tonic, curl of salted orange zest and scattering of fresh berries.

Introduction to chef Romarlin Govender
Q&A with Old Packhouse: Mark Dando

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