A Mari – which means ‘from the sea’ in Latin – is a unique new gin that is created in Cape Town using water from the Atlantic Ocean. Using seawater is no gimmick, however: the minerals in the water aid in the extraction of oils from the unique Cape coastal botanicals that are also used in the distillation process, which lend a rich smoothness and complexity to the gin.
A Mari is made in small batches by Jess Henrich and Niel du Toit – who do everything from harvesting the botanicals to distilling the product and hand-numbering each bottle – and is a great-tasting gin with a beautiful nose. You can enjoy it straight on ice or with a good tonic, but it’s at its very best in a martini with just a splash of vermouth.
We caught up with Jess and Niel to ask them a bit more about their creation.
What inspired you to create A Mari? Cape Town. The diverse selection of indigenous flora on the Atlantic coast of the city makes this such an exciting place to make gin. Being entrepreneurs and gin lovers, we couldn’t resist the lure of a new challenge.
Where and when are you at your most inspired? It’s different for each of us. Jess is at her most inspired when surrounded by fynbos, and Niel when distilling said fynbos.
What is your favourite aspect of the distilling process? For us both, the magic of distilling lies in the recipe development. The oils and flavours of each botanical react differently during the distilling run. Some botanicals create the top notes and others the base notes, and then there are those that bind them all together. It’s the alchemy of combining all the different flavours to create a balanced and complex gin that excites us most.
How would you suggest serving A Mari to a seasoned gin lover? With a slice of pink grapefruit, a sprig of thyme, a good tonic and lots of ice in a brandy snifter.
If you were cocktails, what would you be? Jess would be a Martini – light on the vermouth – and Niel a Negroni.
What’s your favourite time of day? Sunset, as its the cocktail hour (Jess). Sunrise, as the day is ahead of you and anything might happen (Niel).
A Mari is available at leading liquor stockists in and around Cape Town, with distributors coming online to service the rest of the country in the coming months. Visit amarigin.com for more information.