Born of the sea, Clifton Gin is an iconic new addition to the luxury spirits sector. The vision for this ocean-inspired signature set of gins, founded by South African born Silvana Bottega, was the sheer refreshing burst of the Atlantic Ocean and the soft golden sand of the Cape’s most exclusive beach, Clifton.
Established in the wine and spirits game, Bottega has spearheaded marketing for her family’s wine group for more than a decade and has handled operations for award-winning Idiom Wines & Restaurant in Stellenbosch for the past 3 years.
She has also historically opened a champagne bar in partnership with Pernod Ricard in Johannesburg and worked on various partnership opportunities for the group. Her passion, however, is sensory mixology: ranging from wine to gin, to perfumes and floral-infused chocolates. “Understanding the accords that one can find in a scent and the nuances of flavour is something that has always been of interest to me: it runs through anyone who has a true passion for wine and spirits. I took a course in Paris to learn the art of perfume and how one can pick up various top, heart and base notes in alcohol. From there, I started experimenting with botanicals. When it came to creating my own gin from scratch, I first explored the botanicals in their pure form and then carefully worked out the key components I wanted in each gin composition. We did various experiments with kelp, fynbos and tea. I trusted in a master distiller, Kobus Gelderblom, to steer the final blending, and we laboured over the final composition until we felt we had found something which could stand the test of time and would offer a smoothness and yet have a refreshing character that stood out.”
There are two gins in the newly launched portfolio: Clifton 1 and Clifton 2. The carefully crafted editions echo the numbered protected coves of Clifton beaches, cusping the Atlantic seaboard and sitting under the rocky crags of the famous Lion’s Head. Both the gins in the collection received Gold Medals at the South African Craft Gin Awards prior to release.
“I am a real thalassophile. If I think of my happiest times, they are always linked to the ocean,” says Silvana. “Villas overlooking Cannes in the French Riviera, summer parties in St Tropez with beautiful people, Nikki Beach bar in the Costa Smeralda and the sandy tones of Scorpios in Mykonos, falling in love over cocktails at Cala di Volpe or magical sunsets in Bora Bora, or island-hopping on yachts as far afield as Indonesia – all around the world, the power of the ocean is hypnotic. Clifton for me is the epitome of the spirit of the Cape: the spectacular beaches, the ocean I love and the ocean that links us together. It’s about memories of sun-kissed days in bikinis and warm summer nights wearing silk dresses. The gin we have created is liquid sunshine in a sip.”
Clifton 1 – Sipping Gin
This fine-crafted signature gin is composed of orange peel, coriander seed, lemon peel and cardamom. Small distillations with the botanicals bring together the smooth tea-infused notes of chamomile and honeybush, the warmth of floral accords of lavender, and the distinctive fynbos note of Cape snowbush. The colour of the fine, sipping gin is golden sand. Perfect served over ice or alone, the floral and tea notes are balanced with a creamy mouth feel and caramelised flavour from the honeybush. It’s an exceptionally smooth and eminently drinkable gin, complex, long and offering a honeyed tea note.
Clifton 2 – Cocktail Gin
In hues of Tiffany-esque sea, Clifton 2 is a cocktail playground. Lifted with marine and fynbos botanicals, cucumber and buchu, all work in harmony to capture the spirit of the ocean. This clean and classic juniper-dominant gin made with a signature marine botanical from the Atlantic Ocean, exudes mineral- and menthol-kissed notes. The top notes of vibrant citrus peel and fresh cucumber are bolstered by the redolent minty notes of the fynbos, buchu, one of the signature flora of the Cape. This exceptionally refreshing gin delights the palate and is the ultimate mixologists’ gin.
The range is available via the Clifton Gin website, cliftongin.com, and will be available at other retailers including Norman Goodfellows. Clifton 1 sells for R498 a bottle and Clifton 2 for R429.