Meet the Maker of Tragelaphus craft gin

Motswana distiller introduces the Kgalagadi inspired craft gin to the market


Inspired by the expansive Kgalagadi Desert and its unique flora and fauna, Motswana distiller Boikanyo Mothibatsela set out to create a spirit that would celebrate a part of his home country he had fallen with love with and in the process Tragelaphus craft gin was born. “Trag” as it is affectionatley abbreviated takes on bold and rewarding twist to distilling gin by aging it with Camel Thorn wood (Mokala bark) in its infusion. Bucking the trend of floral infusions, the gin has a unique taste as a result of the cold vacuum distillation process. It has a strong taste and sweet undertones and can be accomanied by soda water. Tragelaphus has a heavy juniper content and other ingredients including aniseed, coriander, angelica root and camel thorn wood.
“The name was actually a debate, whether to keep it short or have a tongue twister conversation starter. Tragelaphus or Trag actually is the latin name for a Kudu or Tholo which is my totem as a Morolong. The name not only signifies my heritage, but encapsulates the essence of the brand which is beautiful, elegant and intrinsically tied to the desert and the bush,” Mothibatsela explained to Time Out.
To come up with the product Mothibasela says it took a bit of trial and error, plenty of back and forth in approval processes and a commitment to the end goal. He says Trag brings a unique spin on Gin in what is becoming quite a crowded market. First, it uses cold distillation and is made in vacuum, drastically reducing boiling temperature and limiting the effect of heat on the infusions. Secondly, it stays true to the Kgalagadi theme by using camel thorn wood in the infusion. He says the drink is equally for Gin enthusiasts as it is even for whiskey and wine drinkers.
“My interest in gin has really evolved from years of enjoying a refreshing gin and tonic, and more recently observing the global growth of innovative and unique craft beverages. I essentially decided one day on the couch, after spending quite some time playing with the idea, to combine my passion and desire to create something inspired by my love for gin and an equally strong love for the outdoors,” the Pitsane native shared.
On the gin’s food pairings, Mothibatsela said Trag is best served with smoked fish, salmon or even Chobe bream. The second option is to pair it with cured meats including chorizo, salami, pork, tongue and prosciutto but he also recommends Tlhogo as another excellent choice to pair the gin with.
The gin will be available at the Stanbic Bank Gin Fest hosted by Liquid Library on the 3rd November and at the Gin Affair festival on the 24th November. The producer is currently in talks with a local distributor to bring the brand into stores, hotels and restaurants soon.