Interview with Simone Musgrave, founder of Musgrave Gin

May 10, 2017 (Last Updated: May 24, 2017)
Interview with Simone Musgrave, founder of Musgrave Gin

Musgrave Gin have been at the forefront of South Africa’s Artisan Gin revolution since its beginning in 2015 and are not ones to lose their lead. 2016 has seen Musgrave spearhead international trends for gin lovers once again with their latest addition to the family – Musgrave Pink Gin.

Incorporating style, elegance and femininity, Musgrave have followed the demand for pink drinks and trends in rosé wine with their very own rose water infused Gin variety. Rosé has been around as long as most of us can remember. The 1980’s saw the introduction of fruity sorts such as White Zinfandel which granted, remain more of an embarrassing memory. However, Rosé has blossomed over the years – It’s pink appearance making it a firm pillar in modern day womanhood.

Musgrave pink gin was recently awarded first place at the 2016 Michelangelo Wine and Spirits awards proving itself to be a strong contender in the artisan spirits category. To be enjoyed on the rocks, with a splash of soda or in a range of cocktails, this versatile spirit makes the perfect accompaniment to any meal or occasion.

The Origins of Musgrave Gin

Maurice Boon Musgrave, grandfather of founder Simone Musgrave, left Plymouth in 1949 bound for Africa to start a new life exploring and discovering the people and land of Africa. After three months on a ship with a small baby, a measles outbreak and many a day of seasickness, the adventure that would change the shape of his family had begun.

From then onward an African family would take on the adventure Maurice had started.  The spirit of endeavour, adventure and courage lives on in granddaughter, Simone, guardian of Maurice’s passion for the unusual. Musgrave Gin is no ordinary spirit – it is an artisan gin celebrated for its top notes of Cardamom, African Ginger and Grains of Paradise.

Musgrave Gin

We chatted to Simone Musgrave, mom of two, about her delicious gin and how she juggles her career and her lovely family.

  1. Is your gin the first and only pink gin in South Africa? Do you think producers will catch onto this, and will we see a variety of tinted gins from Musgrave in the future?

Yes it is. Like all innovations, the market will catch onto it and we will see copies coming onto the market not only in terms of colour copies but flavour too.  I won’t look at another gin at this stage as the market has become quite cluttered with gin and our focus will be on consolidating our brand in the market.

  1. Can you tell us about the thinking behind your pink gin packaging? It really is a stand-out design.

I wanted to disrupt the spirits category by targeting, overtly, a product for the female market as well as continuing our brand story with tales of a bygone era and giving cues to a product that contains a rose flavour… It sets us apart from the transparent gins and excites not only women as we have seen but all consumers.

  1. There are so many gins on the market and many South African gin products based on fynbos, how are yours different?

Musgrave has no fynbos or rooibos inclusions at all.  We are uniquely different in that we tell a story of the African Spice Route and source our botanicals to represent a total African Story.  The top notes of African Ginger and Grains of Paradise come from Ghana and cardamom represents the spices of Zanzibar.

  1. Are men receptive to the pink gin or is it mainly women in your target market?

We are finding a great following of Musgrave Pink amongst men and it seems to transcend gender.  Although it is pink, it is a bold and sophisticated flavour and not at all sweet or overly perfumed so it will appeal to all pallets.

  1. Why pink? Is this trend about colour or a bigger mindset?

Pink is a colour that represents so many free thinking movements.  It not only has been used to signify support for breast cancer and aids but also is revolutionary colour signifying the freedom of the gay movement.

  1. You and Lucy Beard, your distiller, have really made names for yourselves in a previously very ‘male’ space. What advice do you have for women entering typically male dominated industries?

I have supported myself all my adult life and was never raised to think or worry about my place in a male world.  As women we need to stop allowing these “spaces” to be owned and simply be confident that we can move into anything we put our minds to.  I am raising my daughters in the same way and perhaps one day we won’t be asked to even answer these questions.

  1. If you could give your daughters one piece of career advice, what would it be?

Do what makes you happy, inspires you and give you the lifestyle you want and dream of.

  1. Which person/people in your career do you credit as being your biggest inspiration and mentor?

My father, a successful and fearless entrepreneur in Africa and Allen James and mentor and colleague who I worked with for many years, had many conversations with, travelled to innovative environments with and was fed much reading material to stretch my mind, inspire me and make me think beyond the boundaries of my mind.

  1. How do you enjoy gin? On its own or in a cocktail?

I love a Dirty Martini or my Pink neat on ice with a dash of Fitch & Leeds Soda

10.What have been some of the highlights of your career?

I was fortunate in my corporate job to travel and be inspired by great chefs and spending time with Ferran Adria, the world’s greatest chef, in New York was memorable as was the 10-day Italian culinary trip.

  1. Do you travel a lot for research for your work and which countries do you think make the best gin? Are there any surprisingly good gin-making countries?

I did travel a lot for research in my corporate job(which was to look at trends and gain insights).  I try to travel as much as I can now on a smaller budget but being aware, talking to people and keeping abreast of what’s happening in the world is also a contributor to my research.

  1. What would you say to women interested in entering the world of gin as a career?

Distilling could be the next celebratory chefing and opens the door for women and young girls to add this to their list of career options and not think it is a man’s world.

  1. As with food, beverage trends tend to come and go. Are there any big gin trends on the horizon?

I think I will keep my big secrets close to my chest but I think the spirits market in general is an interesting space with flavour and colour coming out as a top trends.  People are looking for experiences and variety and gin can continue to respond to this.

  1. Tell us a bit more about what the future holds for you and Musgrave Gin?

Musgrave gin will be launching a new exciting 50ml bottle in April which will disrupt how mini bottles are used and perceived and we will continue to build a luxury brand for Africa. We are expanding rapidly on our exports and look forward to building Musgrave into a global market.

  1. Tell us about your mother and how she has been part of your journey with Musgrave Gin.

My mother is the ultimate entertainer and I have grown up witnessing and being part of beautiful occasions with supreme ceremony.  My mother has also empowered me to believe I can do anything that is in my dreams.

Visit the Musgrave Gin website for more information.

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