It’s a most compelling foodie story: Africa’s original elephant dung gin. A double-gold winner made from botanicals that have been eaten – and excreted – by elephants.
Last year, scientists and ‘gin’preneurs, Dr Les Ansley and his wife Professor Paula Ansley, launched the world’s first elephant dung-based gin. Under the guidance of ‘gin master’ Roger Jorgenson they created ‘Indlovu Gin’– an innovative, premium gin that uses the foraging habits of the world’s largest land animals to select the botanicals used in the gin process.
‘Our unorthodox and unconventional gin has led us on an incredible 18-month journey from concept through to market. The idea for our gin was born from the fusion of two African experiences.
The first was the enjoyment of sipping sundowner gin and tonics around a Kenyan waterhole watching the elephants drink, and the second was walking through a game reserve with a ranger who explained the foraging habits and digestion of African elephants. The guide explained that elephants digest only a small amount of what they eat and the rest is deposited on the bush floor.’
To make it, elephant waste is collected by hand, then dried and washed to remove the excess waste. The leftover botanicals are then sterilised and dried, before being added to the gin.
Did you know that despite a varied diet, elephants only digest around 50% of their food, which leaves a variety of plant life, including roots, bark, fruit, flowers and seeds, behind for reuse.
So no, it doesn’t taste like crap. The spirit is smooth and complex, with earthy, grassy, woody flavours that change subtly with the seasons.
Called Indlovu, meaning elephant, the drink is designed to be sipped on ice, or topped with Cointreau, orange juice and tonic water to create a concoction called the “Elephant in the Room”.
Paula and Les are about to launch a further gin shortly, but a ‘dung-free’ version with elephants and conservation still very much in mind. ‘A delicious pink gin made from prickly pear – considered a delicacy by elephants who, believe it or not, are able to remove the prickles with their feet!’
If you’re the kind of person that likes to know where your food comes from, each bottle is marked with the GPS coordinates of where the dung was discovered and the date it was collected.
A full list of stockists is available from the Indlovu website. And 15% of profits are donated to the Africa Foundation to support wildlife conservation.
We say cheers to this unusual gin with its ‘Proudly South African’ status that is flying a flag, to say nothing of encapsulating the essence of Africa, and is a worthy winner of the Most Compelling Foodie Story category in the African Travel and Tourism Awards.
These awards are a celebration of all that lies beneath our African skies. They honour the stars of African tourism and the enchanting tales they weave for our industry.
Acknowledgement in part: Erina Starkey – www.delicious.au