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This Craft Distillery Transforms Invasive Plants Into Gin

Common water hyacinth is known for its bright purple hues, green floral scent — and vicious ability to choke out native aquatic species. A craft distillery in South Africa is bringing awareness to this invasive plant by transforming it into delicious gin. (Photo: Indika Kumara Dissanayake/Pexels)

A craft distillery in Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa, is turning invasive water hyacinths into gin in an effort to bring awareness to the impact the troublesome plant has on the local environment. 

According to Ridge Times, Phillip Peach, a 55-year-old construction worker with an emerging spirits business on the side, is the man behind the hyacinth-infused craft gin, Green Monster. 

“I want to bring people closer to the problem, and thought that if people can ‘see’ it, they will be more inclined to take action,” Peach told Ridge Times.

Following Green Monster, Peach plans to distill (not just infuse) hyacinth into a gin called Purple Devil, which will be tinted a similar hue to the petals of a water hyacinth flower.

Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from gin sales will be sent to the Bronkhorstspruit Catchment Forum, a group that works to maintain the health and rehabilitation of local water sources. Through these contributions, the Bronkhorstspruit Catchment Forum will be supported in its continuous efforts to remove the invasive species from the Bronkhorstspruit Dam.

Peach produces a range of gin bottled under the name Dorsland. While not currently available for purchase online, locals have given positive feedback to the craft spirits.

“People in smaller rural communities appreciate crafts like these a lot more,” Peach informed Ridge Times.

Commenting on the gin-making process, Peach told Ridge Times: “Gin or jenever is quite complex. In earlier years, it was used as a medicine. The process, however, allows one to be creative because various recipes and types of gins are different from more commercial gins.”

“My biggest achievement lies in the creative process, especially when it turns out better than expected, and seeing people enjoying it. And, of course, helping the cause,” Peach added.

Peach also hopes to see his distillery become a part of the Bronkhorstspruit Dam tourism route, allowing visitors and locals alike to enjoy spirit-tasting sessions and experience what the lake-side location has to offer.

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Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping an extra-dry martini while painting or relaxing by the pool with a thrilling mystery novel.