A gin infused with an unlikely ingredient is bringing a lot of attention to a South African couple. Their special variety of gin, Indlovu Gin, is infused with elephant droppings, which gives the gin a flavor the creators describe as “lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy.” They say that tourists looking for a unique African experience have been more than willing to give it a taste.
The creators, scientists Les and Paula Ansley, got the idea after a safari last year during which a wildlife ranger described an elephant’s digestive process. A wildlife ranger explained that elephants eat a variety of fruits and flowers, digesting less than a third of it. The couple puzzled for a while before working out the gin-making process, but finally happened upon a formula that they thought would work.
Their first batch of elephant dung came by mail from the park where they had taken their safari. To create the gin, the droppings are dried, crumbled, and washed to remove and dirt and sand. The remains are then sterilized and dried again, before being placed in an airing cupboard. The smells left are that of flowers, fruits, and leaves eaten by the elephants.
The couple now collects the elephant waste themselves, controlling when and where they get the droppings from. Five large bags of the dung are collected to make 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin. Each bottle is marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. The couple says the flavor of the gin changes with the seasons and location.
The couple choose the name Indlovu for their gin because it means elephant in the Zulu language. Their creation is now sold online and at duty-free shops and game lodges. A bottle sells for around 500 rand, or about $32. The couple did not say how many they’ve sold.