Cape Town-based premium spirits company Truman & Orange has announced that Aviation American Gin, one of the highest rated gin’s in the world, has officially landed in South Africa. 

Batch-distilled in small 100-case batches at the House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Aviation is American’s original craft gin.

The brand’s story started back in 2006, when American mixologist Ryan Magarian was trying to think up a use for gin beyond the usual martinis and G&Ts. For inspiration, he turned to a cocktail that had been popular in the 1920s, shortly before the imposition of the Prohibition. Gin was the main ingredient of this drink, along with maraschino liqueur and a squeeze of fresh lemon – and this got Magarian thinking about the potential of gin as a base for other cocktails. His passion was shared by bartenders Medoff and Christian Krogstad and, after more than 20 attempts at making a spirit that encapsulated their unique ethos, the trio of co-founders hit upon the right flavour profile. 

While, in the past, most other gins distilled according to the London Dry method have a heavy juniper flavour, botanicals are the first flavour note you’ll notice when you sip on Aviation Gin. There’s definitely juniper and pine on the nose, but its backed up with soft sweet orange, lavender and cardamom.  The result is soft and round, leaving a beautiful wide medley of botanicals on the palette.

This break from traditional distillation created space for other distillers following in Aviation Gin’s wake, to play with new and different ingredients, thus setting the scene for the craft gin explosion.

Rowan Leibbrandt, of Truman & Orange, is confident that Aviation will be as popular locally as it is internationally. “Aviation Gin’s fans love its smoothness. It’s softer and more subtle than the gins consumers are familiar with, which makes it a great favourite among those who are new to drinking gin, or those who wish to sip it on the rocks.  It’s also fantastic as a base for cocktail mixes, ” he says.

He adds that Aviation’s distinctive packaging, which recalls the glamour of 1920s America – think Amelia Earhart and the Great Gatsby – further enhances the brand’s allure and mystique. 

And with global icon, writer, producer and fan favourite, Ryan Reynolds recently acquiring ownership interest in the brand, the local market is certain to embrace the pioneering spirit of Aviation Gin. Reynolds says, “Aviation is the best tasting gin in the world. Once I tried it, I knew I wanted to get involved with the company in a big way.” 

Aviation American Gin is available nationwide from all good liquor stores, bars and retails at approximately R449 a bottle. 

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Picture: Nidha Narrandes

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