Out Of Africa: How Elephant Gin Is Conserving A Species
The premium drink of the summer, Elephant Gin was founded by Robin and Tessa to create a drink that was made with care, and supported an environment of which they loved. Here, we discover the story behind the brand and what they’re doing, that makes them a #brandtotrust…
HOW DID YOU GET INTO GIN-MAKING?
Elephant Gin was inspired by my and my husband’s travels through South Africa and Kenya – and especially the sundowner experience after a day out in the bush. The sundowner is celebrated as the drink during sunset overlooking the majestic African landscape and reminiscing all the beautiful nature and animals one has seen during the day. More often than not the drink comes in form of a Gin and Tonic – and this tradition would live on back in Europe. Paired with the findings of the exotic African botanicals that have never been used in gin-making before, we started researching, learning and trying to come up with our own recipe for a gin – but one with an “African spirit”. It took over two years of intense studying and trialing, but eventually we arrived at a recipe of 14 botanicals that we were excited about.
At the same time, we were determined to support the land that inspired us in the first place – and since the first bottle we have been donating funds towards African elephant conservation.
WHY SOUTH AFRICA?
In 2011, I went to South Africa mainly for some photography and filming, but became involved with a foundation called Space For Elephants. I was immediately drawn in by the people I met, grew passionate about the work they were doing – and since then was determined to find a way to aid elephant conservation. The poaching situation has become so critical that I couldn’t go back to Europe and ignore what I had seen and learned over the past months.
Different countries in Africa have different challenges when it comes to wildlife conservation, so I decided to not channel all funds to one country / foundation, but in addition to supporting a foundation in South Africa, we also decided to work with one in Kenya (Big Life Foundation), who are known for their great anti-poaching work.
HOW DOES THE BRAND SUPPORT THE CONSERVATION OF ELEPHANTS?
Since the very first bottle sold, we have given 15% of bottle profits to Big Life Foundation and Space for Elephants that are devoted to the conservation of the African elephant.
Since the launch of our 50ml miniature bottles earlier this year, we have been supporting a third organisation that is close to our hearts, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – known as the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. Its elephant orphanage near Nairobi nurtures baby elephants who have been found in the wild – often either left behind when their mother die due to poaching or other human intervention. Each baby elephant has a dedicated team member to nurse them back to strength and to rear them to join their own herd of ex-orphans. 15% of the profits from our new miniature bottles go to DSWT to support these initiatives.
WHERE IS THE GIN PRODUCED?
The Gin is produced in northern Germany (Mecklenburg Vorpommern) in an area known for its apple plantations. After all, Robin and I are German and we wanted to make use of the high quality production standards available to us here. We produce at a distillery surrounding various orchards that provide fresh apples for our production, which are part of the gin’s recipe.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST WOW MOMENT FOR THE BRAND?
My personal highlight more often than not revolves around the work with our partner foundations. To date, we have been able to grow our involvement and started to make a real difference in the elephant conservation projects, we set out to support. So far, we have donated over EUR 350,000 to our partner foundations through the sales of our bottles as well as fundraising events. With that, we have been funding 35 anti-poaching rangers in Kenya, built and opened a wildlife education center in South Africa, helped trans-locating an elephant herd from one area to anther – and much more.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Robin and I never knew where and how the company, or better, ‘our hobby’, would develop, so we stayed in our previous jobs for as long as we could (until May 2015).We became quite overloaded to say the least and it was challenging to give Elephant Gin the attention it needed – and at the same time make sure to juggle the “regular” full-time job to ensure we could make a living without going into debt.
Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter. If you’ve enjoyed our feature on Elephant Gin, you might also enjoy reading Brands That Care: Kids Brands Innovating With Materials and Big Blue Thinking: In Conversation With Hanli Prinsloo of I Am Water Travel