Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
30 Sep 2019
12:49 pm

Distillery 031 captures the taste of Durban in spirit form

Citizen Reporter

The label's products are taking the SA market, and the world, by storm.

Distillery 031

“I call this my gateway spirit,” said Andrew, swirling the amber liquid in his glass. Well, through the gateway, down the hatch and the rabbit hole and colour me impressed, well impressed!

Andrew Rall, owner of Durban’s Distillery 031, is a singular man whose burgeoning craft distillery is a portal to some unique, top-notch craft spirits. He was referring to his D’Urban barrel-aged gin – something rather special. Serve it on ice to guests without telling them what they are drinking, just to gauge reactions. Plenty of surprised expressions, no doubt.

Distillery 031’s Agua Zulu.

Gateway? Well, I agree with him that it may change the perceptions of many non gin drinkers.

Gin is trending – has been for a while now – and Rall has been at the forefront of the gin revolution in South Africa. His passion trumps trends, however, and Distillery 031 products include a superb tonic cordial, rum (including cachaça), vodka, absinthe and some unique spirit aperitifs – all with a view to putting the country on the map in terms of carefully and beautifully crafted, award-winning, spirits.

Rall distilled privately at first, acquired his commercial licences in 2015 and, in a relatively short time, has made inroads into the international market. The fact that he exports his premium 031 Vodka to a country like Sweden, where vodka is not so much trending as entrenched in social culture, says a lot. He is a gentle giant – charming, charismatic, passionate, perceptive, driven and open to ideas and experiences.

Distillery 031 owner Andrew Rall

That’s a great checklist for someone who continually researches and experiments in his quest for excellence. His introduction and taste for spirits was more about quantity than quality (student daze), but a trip to Scotland ignited an interest in – and passion for – distilling.

Fast-forward and this once brand manager for Unilever found himself with his own brand, an urban distillery (Durban’s first craft distillery) and in cahoots with like-minded entrepreneurs in establishing Durban’s first urban renewal district – Station Drive, off Umgeni Road. Rall is passionate about more than quality hooch. The name, Distillery 031 (031 is the local dialling code), hints at his love of his roots. Hence the distillery being in the city and the many indigenous elements that infuse the business – from bottle labels to botanicals and the raw materials from which the spirits are crafted.

Distillery 031 tasting.

These include sugar cane, baobab fruit, indigenous wormwood and rosehip, coffee cherries (cascara) and imphepho, a medicinal herb used by sangomas to summon the ancestors.

I’ve attended many, many wine tastings/pairings – I even conducted tastings and tours in my youth. I’ve also toured impressive distilleries, but I’ve never had such an entertainingly educational occasion as in Distillery 031’s industrial-chic tasting room.

A group of German tourists and I exited the tasting room in a haze – a haze of newly acquired tastes, knowledge about spirits in general and Distillery 031’s products in particular. Like my companions, deciding which were new favourites was top of mind.

You’ll find Distillery 031 products in TOPs at Spar and Pick n Pay liquor outlets.


Win a superb, Jam-packed liquor hamper from Distillery 031. For more info on how to enter, click here:

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