Creating a gem of a new handcrafted pink Gem Gin at Distillers & Union!




I was invited by Martyn Mills to participate in a tasting of the brand new handcrafted pink Gem Gin, designed to appeal to women in particular, being feminine and elegant in its brand personality. The Tasting was hosted at Distillers & Union in Woodstock. It was a form of market research in which I have not previously participated.

While we were waiting for the new Gem Gin to distill in the small batch distilling equipment, Martyn provided feedback about how the brand had come about. His teenage daughter Gemma had designed the label for a new wine which Martyn wanted to launch to women in particular, aiming at the China and the USA markets in particular. He has export experience of the Chinese market, having previously been an exporter of South African wines to that country, before that market crashed. 

Martyn admitted that he has little experience in the Gin market, but the same wine marketing principles apply. His focus on women consumers comes from understanding that there are more women than male purchasers of alcoholic beverages, that women are more brand loyal than men, and that they have better sensory abilities. 

Martyn worked the other way around to normal, creating his label and brand name before having developed his product. He knew he wanted to create a Proudly Western Cape Gin, with Botanicals of Buchu, Rooibos, and Honeybush, with juniper forming the ‘base stock’ of Gem Gin. His daughter Gemma is very special to Martyn, coming out of treatment for a severe disease, and he has named the brand after her. Gemma is the artist who designed the label, set to be further refined. Martyn chose a grappa glass bottle for his gin, creating a packaging point of difference, the Bohemian crystal glass stopper to be imported from the Czech Republic, the packaging enhancing the elegance and feminine personality which Martyn has planned for the brand. An exclusive run of only 1200 bottles is planned.  

Yesterday Simon von Witt, the owner of Distillers & Union and formerly of Woodstock Gin, created a distilled gin with the base Botanicals, and adding lemon and blueberries. Pinotage grape skins were added afterwards, to create the pink colour and releases Resveratrol and Polyphenols into the Gin, with anti-oxidant properties. Two variants were created, and I was asked for feedback. I decided to approach this with the honesty I am known for, and commented on the difference in the pink colour, recommending the lighter pink as being the softer and more feminine of the two. But while this variant had a lesser juniper nose and is more perfumed and floral, it had a sweeter taste, which Simon explained came from the blueberries which he had added. He will cut back on the blueberries for his next trial batch, to lessen the sweetness. Wild rosemary and Cape May Botanicals will be added too. 

To take the brand into fruition, Martyn is looking for investors through crowdfunding support. 

And so my work was done, a very different way of being exposed to a fledgling brand. 


Gem Wines. Cell 082 098 9235 Instagram: @mcmwines50

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_ulmenstein


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