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South African distillery to unveil 80% ABV ‘drought’ gin

Inspired by the upcoming ‘Day Zero’ when the city’s water supply will be mostly cut off, Cape Town distiller Pienaar and Son is to launch an 80% ABV ‘Drought Edition’ gin to reduce its use of water.

Pienaar and Son’s range including Empire Gin, Orient Gin and Waskis Vodka.

The South African distiller intends to bottle its gin as it comes off the still at a strength of 80% ABV. This will dramatically reduce the amount of water used in the production process; it currently uses an estimated 200 litres of water per batch to dilute the spirit down to 43% ABV.

Andre Pienaar, master distiller at Pienaar and Son, explained that as most people pour double G&Ts and dilute the gin with tonic, so a single shot of the Drought Edition gin will be the same strength.

“It started to seem quite silly when we were trying everything we could to save water in the distillery, that we were diluting gin only to see most of our customers pour double G&Ts.

“It seemed so pointless. Over half a bottle spirit at 43% alcohol is water. It’s not adding any flavour, it’s just diluting the alcohol to a sipping strength, and I imagine only a tiny portion of gin drinkers are enjoying it neat,” said master distiller, Andre Pienaar.

The Drought Edition gin will be available to buy online from 26 February.

Cape Town’s Day Zero, which is set for 11 May, will see taps to all homes and most businesses cut off, leaving most of the city’s four million inhabitants without running water. Residents will have to queue up at around 200 collection points dotted around Cape Town and will be rationed to 25 litres of water a day for drinking, washing and flushing toilets.

Pienaar added: “I am well aware of the fact that our industry uses a lot of water, and maybe the water saved through this initiative will hardly make a dent, but that’s not the point.

“The point is that no-one, and no business is exempt from trying to make a difference in this difficult time. No matter how big or how small”.

The Drought Edition gin strips Scotland’s Twin River Distillery Uncut Gin of its crown as the world’s strongest gin. 

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