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Gin just the tonic for Khayelitsha business

Local entrepreneur will release two types of gin in November

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Luvuyo Jongile from Khayelitsha’s Ilitha Park with his artisanal gins. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana
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Khayelitsha will soon have its own gin says Luvuyo Jongile of Ilitha Park. He says he has been working tirelessly for the past eight months and finally there is something he can show for it.

Jongile says he was inspired by a study that found that the French alcohol brand Hennessy Cognac was popular in Khayelitsha. “I questioned myself asking, why does it have to be like that? Why can we not consume our own brands? After visiting a distillery in Woodstock, this is when the decision to make my own gin came about,” says Jongile.

Mayine Gin is named after Jongile’s son. Mayine means “let it rain”, which Jongile says refers to blessings upon success, hard work, and entrepreneurship which he hopes will rain on him and other black professionals who start something.

Jongile grew up playing tennis for the Western Province which he says kept him extremely busy. “Growing up in Khayelitsha was a bit of a challenge, because I was robbed and my tennis equipment was taken,” he says.

He says he is a gin fan. “I like gin because you can easily infuse it with anything and it’s a classy drink. The flavours and different aromas you get to smell while drinking it. Mostly, craft gin has a personal touch to it and you get to appreciate that as well,” he says.

“At the moment we [Mayine] have two types of gin – wine based and rooibos infused. Our aim is to make our gin unique by infusing it with different flavours. Once we are established, we will use different herbs to infuse it, for example impepho (incense used as a herb or medicine or burned for traditional purposes), because we want to make something that is authentic and organic. Something that describes our culture, not only as Xhosa people, but as black people,” says Jongile.

Jongile, who has partnered with his wife in the business, said they were subcontracting under Woodstock Gin Company, who make the gin for them. But the recipe is their own. Their long term plan, in the next three to five years, is to open their own distillery at the centre of Khayelitsha. “A distillery which will become a tourist destination, where people will come to taste, sit and have lunch or dine in Khayelitsha. We are saying Khayelitsha is not a jungle, it is becoming a city. We want to create employment.”

The gin is not available for sale yet but the launch will be in November.

“This journey has not been easy. There is so much to do. It is time and money consuming. I would say roughly from starting to now, I spent close to R80,000. Even to make a recipe, you have to pay. But both my wife and I have full-time jobs. Funding is a big problem for black entrepreneurs. You must go around knocking on many different doors asking for financial help. Not everyone has the money to start up and bring their ideas to life. But we carry on regardless,” says Jongile.

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