MOSSEL BAY, South Africa (AP) — The makers of a South African gin infused with elephant dung swear their use of the animal’s excrement is no gimmick.
The creators of Indlovu Gin, Les and Paula Ansley, stumbled across the idea a year ago after learning that elephants eat a variety of fruits and flowers and yet digest less than a third of it.
“As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals,” Les Ansley said during a recent visit to their operations. “Why don’t we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?” he recalled his wife suggesting.
Her idea came after a safari during which a wildlife ranger described an elephant’s digestive process.
Weeks later, he said his wife woke him up in the middle of the night with the inspiration. “OK,” I said sleepily. “Let’s give this a bash. Let’s see how it works out.”
The first batch of elephant dung came by mail from the park where they had taken their safari. Then the couple, both scientists, puzzled for a while before working out the gin-making process.
Now they collect the dung themselves, using their bare hands.
They described the gin’s flavor as “lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy” and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
The gin bottles are marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. “So, you’re able to compare almost different vintages of the gin,” Ansley said.