Like mother’s milk
Dollie Gin’s first foray into the hearts and homes of Mbombela’s finest came about when she was asked to attend a cricket match, and what more perfect place than that to serve classic G & Ts.
“It was a resounding success!” Dollie Gin Company’s founder, Tanya Cruse, laughs. “This got me thinking about the endless possibilities regarding gin, which is something I am rather partial to.” She started experimenting and has never looked back.
Originally, Tanya made this spirit for thirsty friends and family, people who she knew would truly appreciate the labour of love that was Dollie gin, and with the three uniquely delicious flavours, blueberry and cloves; rooibos and lemongrass; and strawberry and wild basil, there really is something for everyone. Tanya is currently working on her fourth delightful combination – grapefruit and aloe.This year also sees Tanya operating at fellow Lowveld favourite, Rottcher Wineries.
She infuses her gin herself, using an array of herbs, spices and botanicals, especially, of course, juniper berries. It takes around seven days and Tanya produces around 20 bottles at a time.
Infusions come at the very end of the process and can be quite tricky. “You need to get a perfect balance,” she smiles, “it’s not always easy to do.” Tanya always does her own bottling and labelling, time-consuming but worth every second.
“The gin has to be perfect, from the flavour right down to the placement of the label on the bottle. I am so fussy about everything, that I’m not sure if I could ever get someone else to do it; I’d constantly have to double-check that each label is on perfectly straight! But I find it therapeutic and enjoy the process tremendously.”
Dollie Gin is often associated with Dollie, a beautifully restored vintage caravan, which up until quite recently travelled around with Tanya, displaying her wares with utter panache and style. Unfortunately, she hurt her back, which made it more and more difficult to manoeuvre Dollie, hitching and unhitching her from the car.
So the difficult decision was made to sell Dollie, and refit the Land Rover, as The Dollie Gin Company’s new face. Fortunately, Dollie went to a loving home. Bought by Bianca Christie of Vanilla Pod fame, Dollie faces a bright and wonderful future, with tempting treats to add to delicious drinks on her horizon. The Land Rover is the ideal accompaniment for Tanya’s gin, she travels far afield, is robust and has everything that this maestro needs at hand – at just the right height.
At the moment, she sells her gin for herself, to very grateful friends and family. But she plans on expanding this enterprise and setting her sights on a more large-scale operation. “Dollie Gin has to start paying its way,” she laughs. “My vision is to grow it nationally, but still keep it hands on. There is a very fine balance between quantity and quality, and I would love to supply bespoke stores.
“There is no use growing to the point where it becomes overly commercialised and loses that something special that gives it heart. It will always have that special, personalised touch that sets it apart.” And when Tanya serves up a goblet of this marvellous elixir, with her trademark splash of style and joi de vivre in the form of blueberries, sprigs of mint, basil or rosemary, accompanied by brightly coloured blossoms, we know just why Mizz Doolittle felt the way she did.
Gin, not surprisingly, has always been one of Tanya’s favourite tipples, and with exciting tastings, tailored packages, the trusty Landie at her side and of course the fabulous gin revolution which is currently in full swing, what can possibly go wrong! Jump onto the craft gin bandwagon and enjoy!