Okay, so get this. You know when old laws hang around sucking the fun out of everything for way too long? This is still a thing in South Africa, where adding wine or grape juice to spirits like gin, before or after the distillation process, is not legally allowed <<Insert eye-roll emoji >>

We know, we know – it’s a tiny gripe in the big scheme of things. But weird little ‘thou shalt not’ tripwires like this seriously hamper the creative process of fun-loving, boundary-pushing distillers like Charles Bryant from Six Dogs Distillery.

Until they don’t…

Okay, before we tell you all about the cute little loophole the Six Dogs manage to sniff out in the thick of South African purity laws, let’s set the scene and introduce you to the players in this comedy of errors/genius-ness.

Six Dogs Distillery is a South African craft distillery that was dreamed into being by distiller Charles Bryant, his brother Glenn (the marketing bloke), and their friend Luigi Marucchi, in 2016. It is located in a completely idyllic nook of the Hex River Valley, called De Wet, right on the cusp of the Winelands and the Karoo.

It’s complete magic. It’s where the wild things grow.

This terroir simply had to be celebrated.

And so they set to work creating a distillery in the shed that used to house their 6 much-loved dogs (hence the name), featuring a custom-designed copper still that used to be a geyser. From these humble beginnings, it quickly grew into a world-renowned gin company that remained true to its authentic roots even as it sprouted wings both locally, and beyond the pond.

It is here that they passionately crafted a range of award-winning gins, including Six Dogs Karoo Gin, the first ever to include botanicals from the Karoo; Six Dogs Blue Gin, the first of its kind in Africa; and Six Dogs Honey Lime Gin, which also flouted convention by including honey, which was also a major game-changer in itself.

And so Six Dogs became known for creating genuinely outstanding, world-class products that always bring something truly unique to the party.

But we digress. Back to the subversive gin-making!

Pinotage is one helluva grape. Much like the mighty Springboks, it was proudly home-grown in sunny South Africa, where a clever old botanist spliced the pretty-but-diva-like Pinot Noir with the more rugged Hermitage to give it some grit. The result was an elegant beast of grape that runs roughshod over other cultivars.

It’s downright EPIC.

Naturally, Six Dogs wanted to use it in a gin. But, as previously mentioned, they weren’t allowed to. This very fact brought out the rebel without a cause in their distiller, who then obviously had to.

So he got crafty. Since he could not crush the Pinotage berries in the gin, or infuse it during the distillation process, it was decided to add hand-selected grapes to the gin once distillation was done so it could slowly, over a matter of months, impart its awesomeness into our marvellous gin.

The result? Six Dogs Pinotage Stained Gin <the ‘stained’ bit is because of the 🙄 law>

Like the wine variant, Six Dogs Pinotage Stained Gin is deep in colour and bold in flavour with notes of black cherry, plum, black currant, and some tasty tannin. While each year’s grapes bring unique (albeit subtle) variants in taste, the juniper-forward flavour is consistent.

This singular spirit really pushes the boundaries between liquor categories and is often likened to grappa, Cognac, or smoky whiskey. Plus, like a good red wine, its flavours develop in the glass, with each sip getting more complex and intriguing.

Keen to try it? You should be! It’s a revelation.

Right now, you might think of gin as a summery spirit that should only ever be enjoyed in the sun with oodles of ice, and plenty of tonic. This will all change once you’ve sipped Six Dogs Pinotage Stained Gin neat, or on the rocks, in front of a roaring fire as wintery rain splatters the window. Talk about decadent!

Of course, you could also have it with a good tonic while overlooking the ocean, or with rooibos iced tea as you linger on a lilo (or whatever your heart desires really)! It’s an all-rounder with plenty of scope for experimentation, this Pino gin. You can dress it up, or down, or sashay it sideways. Whatever floats your boat, darling.

So, there you have it, the short story of how a dusty old law inspired some spirited rebels to flout the lame rules to make something lovely. Try it; you’ll love it. Visit www.sixdogs.com and join our community @sixdogsdistillery