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Let's get to know Lucy Beard from Hope Distillery!

It’s Woman’s Month and we are focusing on women in our industry. We sat down with Lucy Beard the owner of Hope Distillery and chatted to her about their journey from Islington to Cape Town and being the proud owners of the city’s first licensed artisanal distillery. Following their travels over Europe and Morocco, ex-lawyers Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk left their corporate lives in London and returned home to South Africa to start up Hope Distillery


Before starting up in the gin industry you both worked as lawyers in London, what made you decide on this career change?

Lucy Beard: It was a two-step transition. The weather in London was starting to get us down, so we took a year off in a campervan and travelled around Southern Europe and Morocco. Quite near the start of that year, we realised we didn’t want to go back to our corporate lives; and by the end of the year had decided we wanted to set up a gin distillery in Cape Town.


Why did you choose to establish your distillery in Cape Town?

Lucy: We’re both South African and, although neither of us had ever lived in Cape Town, we always had a dream to live here, anyone who has visited Cape Town will understand why! We had been living in London for a long time, never thinking we would return to South Africa, but the thought of sunshine and being closer to family decided for us.

Cape Town makes sense in so many ways, it’s the food and drink capital of South Africa, it’s surrounded by areas where unique and unusual botanicals grow and it’s a supportive place in which to launch one’s own business.


Describe the South African gin scene to us and what makes Hope on Hopkins unique.

Lucy: We were inspired to go on this journey having witnessed the growth of the gin industry in London and then our travels in Spain opened our eyes to just how interesting and diverse gin could be.


Cape Town was the centre of good coffee and craft beer in South Africa, but no one here was yet distilling gin on a small-scale basis, and with the passionate following of coffee and craft beer, we figured that gin was bound to be next.




In your African Botanical Gin, you use medicinal herbs native to the Cape such as buchu, kapokbos (wild rosemary) and fynbos (a kind of wild sage). Tell us more about botanicals unique to South Africa and their effect on the flavour profile of your gins.

Lucy: Fynbos directly translated from Afrikaans is “fine leaved plants” and is a large group of shrubs that grow in the coastal belt around Cape Town and form part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are about 7,000 different species of fynbos, so it is an amazingly varied, diverse group.

In our African Botanical Gin, we chose to use just two of these fynbos species, kapokbos, which is wild rosemary and buchu, which is one of the most famous of the fynbos medicinal plants. Both were used initially just for medicinal purposes, and we chose to use just these two as they are completely different to each other. The kapokbos has a herbal yet menthol note, whereas the species of buchu we use has floral, blackcurrant notes. They, and other fynbos we use in other gins, are both incredibly pungent, so we use only small quantities. The oil content is high and even in small quantities can easily dominate the flavour profile of the gin.


Where do you source all the ingredients for your gins?

Lucy: We source our juniper and angelica roots from Europe but try to source most of our other botanicals locally. We have good coriander seeds, beautiful citrus and a whole range of herbs and fynbos. We do also import some of the spices.


What is your perfect gin serve after a day in the sun?

Lucy: A gin and tonic is the perfect end to a day in the sun. My preferred ratio is 1 part gin to 3 parts tonic, just to ensure that the gin shines through.









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