Lock, stock and wine barrel: Qualito Distillery

Qualito Distillery in Limpopo offers unique gin, whiskey and vodka.

If you visited the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair at Hyde Park Corner in Johannesburg at the weekend, chances are good you stumbled upon a bit of an anomaly at the department of trade and industry stall – Qualito Distillery.

When the friendly purveyor Loumarie Raubenheimer offered a taste of their gin and whisky, my first reaction was: Urgh! Another craft distiller.

But then she mentioned something that made me spend more time than I planned at her stall – the distillery is based in Limpopo and everything is made there.

It’s their whisky called Heimer that was a clear knockout. Made from mielies, the whisky has a sweeter note than most whiskies, with pops of vanilla and hazelnut. Although it sounds desserty – it’s not clawingly so.

With the gin boom still causing a ring, Qualito’s Grey Hawk Classic doesn’t feel forced to capitalise on its popularity – because it’s not the sort of gin that’s lightweight.

With bold juniper on the palate, it also delivers some floral and citrus notes with a lingering finish – perfect to mix with tonic, or even soda water, ice and orange rind.

But Qualito Distillery doesn’t stop there – it also dabbles with producing vodka, starting with its premium vodka called Skadi.

Vodka, neat, certainly has a long way to go before it satisfies the South African palette as much as whisky, or even pot still brandy. Just when you thought craft distillers have run out of tricks – Limpopo serves up a storm.

For more information visit qualito.co.za

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