Hartbeespoort couple, Francois and Vonmari Joubert, has just opened a quaint gin and rum craft distillery in Hartbeespoort and their rum has already won the coveted International Michelangelo Wine and Spirits Award for the best craft rum. Their gin and liqueur were not far behind, and both received gold medals.
Lavender, lemon grass, Aloe blossoms, lemon verbena, lime, coriander, rose geranium, juniper berries… it is all in the gin! Tasting Incendo Distillery’s Magalies Gin, will definitely change your mind about gin. And their lavender gin will blow your mind!
For Francois, a metallurgic engineer turned investment analyst, and Vonmari, a professional photographer and designer, their hobby has turned into a full-blown passion and business.
“My fascination with distilling started when I was only 14 years old. I was picking peaches on a farm of a friend, but I am colour blind and the farmer ended up with a lot of green peaches. I was fired… The following day I was assigned to help distill Peach Mampoer in an old copper kettle. I was fascinated and hooked. At university I even distilled mampoer in my dorm room,” Francois laughs.
He bought his first 25 Litre alembic still in 2010, and started experimenting at night after work. Vonmari was just as interested in his hobby and assisted where she could.
“I do the cutting and chopping because I cannot taste the way Francois does,” she laughs. “We already had ideas for logos for our products and a faraway dream of our own distillery,” she says.
When Francois was retrenched in 2017, he decided to chase his dream. “I do not want to be dependent on others again. I applied for a distilling license and started building the distillery. The first building contractor stole our money, and although that set us back, I knew it was now or never to realise this dream.”
“I was dumbstruck when our rum won. I did not hear a word they said about the rum.”
In the mean time they experimented with rum, gin and liqueur. By the time the distillery was finished, their rum was a year old and they decided to enter it for the Michelangelo Wine and Spirits Awards. “Just for fun, we wanted to see how our products would do. When they phoned to invite me to the event I told them I did not want to travel all the way to the Cape just to watch the awards. I was assured that we are in line for an award. We thought it might be a sort of newcomer recognition. I was dumbstruck when our rum won. I did not hear a word they said about the rum. And then two gold awards for our gin and liqueur! It is still unreal.”
The couple officially opened the distillery’s doors in November and their products were a big hit. They even concocted their own bitters for the occasion and to their surprise people wanted to buy it.
“Now we have a new project.” They are also working on a whiskey.
They have been working closely with Sandy Roberts of the Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre for advice on the botanicals in their brews.
“All the special botanical ingredients in the Magalies Gin are sourced from our area.”
Francois and Vonmari do everything themselves… from cutting and chopping to bottling and labeling the end product.
“Let’s just say we spend a lot of time in the distillery,” Vonmari says. “We are basically raising our baby there. She was born during all the preparations for the opening. She even has a bed in the distillery,” she laughs.
“And we do not want it to become too big. We want to produce hands-on premium products and it will stay that way,” says Francois.
“Now that I have perfected my recipes, I am itching to share my creations and passion with the world. One of the fun regular events we plan for the distillery is workshops on blending your own gin. And you can go home with your bottle! I am so passionate about this, I want to share my hard-gained knowledge and show people what we do.”
“We love it. It is a dream come true with products to be proud of.”