The Deep South is the name affectionately given, by the people who live there, to that part of the peninsula south of the Old Cape Road (Oukaapseweg) as far as Cape Point Nature Reserve.
This beautiful area, with its fynbos-clad mountains stretching southwards in a jagged spine towards Cape Point, and bordered by white beaches and blue sea, lends its name and identity to the southern-most distillery in Cape Town.
Although the Deep South was once relatively remote, it now comprises a collection of interconnected, bustling, thriving communities offering the village-like lifestyles of Noordhoek, Kommetjie and Scarborough on the west coast, the small port-feel of Kalk Bay and Simonstown, ranged around the commercial centre of Fish Hoek. Burgeoning development in the whole valley has seen widespread human settlement that links the whole valley together.
The people of the Deep South are a diverse and sometimes quirky lot, ranging across the spectrum from artists to zoologists, captains of industry, tradespeople, crafters, fisherfolk, musicians, artisans, restauranteurs, surfers, builders and shopkeepers.
The distillery is located in a small industrial area on the road that links Kommetjie to the rest of the Cape. The distillery is artisanal, which means that it manufactures premium spirits in small batches, for discerning lovers of craft spirits. Being artisanal, many activities such as fermentation and distillation are very hands-on, and bottling and labelling are done by hand. The manufacture, settling and maturation of our spirits is allowed to unfold at an unhurried pace, and even the distillery tour and tasting are conducted at a leisurely pace.
The result is an authentic, personalised craft experience, and exceptional spirits, made with care and passion.
Deep South Distillery finally opened its doors to the public in December 2017. Both of its gins are gold medal winners, and it has a growing reputation for much more than making great spirits that pay fitting tribute to the unique flora and surroundings of the Cape Peninsula. It is a warm, friendly craft distillery that shares knowledge and fun in equal measure, and is now fulfilling its mission: to make the world a better place, one sip at a time.
A tour of the distillery
Coming soon: a little virtual tour of our distillery, for those who live far away and can't come by in person.
Steve is the owner and distiller at Deep South Distillery. He handles all the business operations, and oversees the distillery operations. He is responsible for product and recipe development and owing to rigorous quality assurance, often has to take a nap at mid-morning.
He considers this to be his fourth, or perhaps fifth, career, in a working life that has seen him being an IT programmer, systems analyst, academic, entrepreneur, lecturer, business owner, author, researcher and conference presenter. He has been actively trying to have at least two mid-life crises a year since his thirties, when he began retiring for the first time, and considers starting a craft distillery in a recession in South Africa at the age of 60 to be one of the strangest decisions he ever made.
He is father of two grown-up daughters and married to Sandy. If he had any free time, he would spend it sailing, playing the piano, hiking, camping, travelling and playing golf. He paints water-colours really badly, likes to collect useful phrases in other languages and can sometimes be found nibbling on his neighbours’ hedges in search of secret botanicals that can be used in the distillery. He was once chased by pirates off the Mozambique coast.
Oh! And he loves craft spirits.
Pourer of Deliciousness
Sandy is Admin Manager at the distillery, and handles most of the sales, accounting and general administration, as well as co-ordinating tastings and events. She has survived being Steve’s better half since before the dawn of recorded time.
Her early career was in recruitment, where she managed several branches in Cape Town and Australia , before joining the training company Steve and his university colleagues had started in the 80’s. As the business grew, she was able to put her MBA to use in managing every aspect of the business over the years, including HR, Finance and Marketing, with a side-line in catering, events and graduation parties.
She is amazing at organising events, and is a talented and creative caterer. Her whimsical and slightly wicked sense of humour keeps Steve in his place. She is loving mother to four children: two human daughters and two canine, and loves the Kommetjie lifestyle.
Maker of all good things
Dan is our Assistant Distiller, and handles many of the day-to-day operations in the distillery, including overseeing the distilling and fermentation runs, running tours, doing deliveries, and helping out with the occasional tasting. Since he does not actually consume alcohol, he is the perfect person to have working in a distillery!
Dan hails from Zimbabwe, where he initially worked as an Electrical Maintenance Technician for ZESA, including a stint in Cabora Bassa, before spending time in marketing at an accounting business. He started his own Coal Merchant company, supplying coal to tobacco farmers for half a decade, before relocating to Cape Town. He joined the distillery in March 2017 and has grown in knowledge and skills to become a vital part of the team.
Dan is a guy who welcomes challenge, and he loves the research that goes into new spirits, processes and recipes. His quirky tours of the distillery and wry sense of humour often have guests in fits of giggles, and his passion for the job shines through strongly. As he says: ͞I love the job and the challenge, and better is not good enough. The best is still to come!͟
Leon is our brand ambassador extreme. As the guy who drives all our sales and promotions, he does a truly amazing job. He mixes quite a mean Gin and Tonic too.
His background in fitting and equipping restaurants and bars is a really handy skill in a distillery that offers tours and tastings! With a recent career in property sales, he knows many interesting people, and having sold them a house or a factory, he is easily able to persuade them to enjoy award-winning spirits as well!
Leon’s passion for our products is extraordinary and his enjoyment of sharing them with someone new is a delight to behold. As he says: “It’s way more fun selling a bottle of excellent gin to a new customer, or watching the face of a top restauranteur or chef light up when they take their first sip, than it is selling property”.
Apart from being a vital part of the Deep South team, he is a keen fisherman and outdoors guy, and lives a stone’s throw from the sea in Simonstown with his daughter.
How the Distillery came about
Steve Erlank settled in Kommetjie more than three decades ago, when he and his wife fell in love with the relative remoteness, natural beauty and creative life style of the valley. Like many inhabitants, he spent his days commuting to a corporate world, which included weekly trips to Gauteng for many years.
Steve had developed an interest in distilling when his favourite grapefruit schnapps went off the market, and he decided to make his own. He bought a small copper alembic still, attended a starter training workshop with Distillique, a local supplier of craft distilling equipment and services, and began trying to reverse engineer the recipe in his garage in his spare time. This was marginally successful as he grappled with new knowledge and skills in physics, chemistry, biology and food science. But the schnapps was quite tasty!
By 2016, and having recently sold his successful training business, he retired from corporate life, went into partnership in building a beautiful catamaran, and embarked on a few sailing adventures in the Indian ocean with friends and family, while he contemplated the possibilities of opening a craft distillery, a long-held dream. Much research into Indian Ocean island rum was conducted on his travels, which continued in South Africa and abroad with visits to distilleries, trade shows, festivals and events, conducting intensive research and just co-incidentally sampling many craft spirits along the way.
In the course of this research, he met many interesting and talented people in the industry. It soon became apparent that craft distilling offered the potential for creativity and innovation, an opportunity for an interesting change of direction, and a great excuse to travel, consume delightful cocktails and continue to meet amazing people.
Along the way, he encountered James Copeland, a crafter who had been making rum in his garage and who aspired to opening his own distillery called Copeland Rum. Their shared values in great spirits led to a collaboration for a time to establish a distillery in the valley and bring gins, rums and vodkas to the market.
A year of hard work ensued as a suitable factory was purchased, equipment was designed and ordered, and every aspect of a working distillery was dreamed about, discussed, plotted and debated with experts in plumbing, drainage, electrical reticulation, roofing, insulation, heat management, pumps, filtering and of course, distilling. Recipes had to be developed, and so the research continued…..
Where did the Brand come from?
When we kicked off the process of developing a craft distillery in Kommetjie, we wanted to pay tribute to the beautiful place in which we live. So we were pretty sure that Deep South would be the name of the distillery, but we needed a logo. So we went global.
For the brand development and logos, we ran a competition on a crowd-design website, where we invited designers from around the world to submit their concepts for a brand that would be a little different, a little fun, and that would link somehow to the Deep South. We got 150 designs and submissions in a week and it was hard work to go through them all.
We picked 10 favourites and circulated the designs to a sample audience with one important question: Which of these designs would entice you into buying a bottle, just because of the logo. More than two thirds of respondents said “Pick the Penguin! Pick the Penguin!”. And so we did.
But why is the penguin upside down?
We often invite visitors to give us their own reasons for the inversion of our penguin, and we must say, their reasons are quite a lot more colourful than the real reason.
Well: the penguin as a logo was conceptualised by a young woman who lives in the Ukraine. Her reasoning was that if you live in the Deep South in the southern hemisphere, then your penguins are going to be standing, upside down, on the bottom of the world!
We are not sure if our penguin is male or female, and it does not have a name yet, but there’s a competition in there somewhere to ask our fans and followers to help us complete his/her identity.
Our values and ethics
Acknowledgements People who have helped along the way
Many people helped us along the way. And we want to thank them here. But we need to ask their permission first. Coming soon…
Map of Deep South Distillery Location
Please note that we are a small, working distillery, and our hours may vary according to the season, the needs of production, festivals, and general business. While we endeavour to stick to these hours, they may vary from time to time. It is always preferable to make a booking or to call us before arriving so that we can give our every attention and avoid disappointing you.