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 initially spent his days commuting to a corporate world, which included weekly trips to Gauteng for many years. Being an IT specialist, a lecturer and having a training company were hardly good training for becoming a distiller!
But 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. The initial results were terrible moonshine, but persistence and practice paid off, and eventually a delicious pamplemousse schnapps resulted.
And so the idea of making craft spirits took root.
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. And so the die were cast: time to open a little craft distillery as a ‘retirement project’. ….