005 Simone Musgrave

In this episode, Holger chats with Simone, the founder of Musgrave Gin.

Musgrave currently has two gins: Musgrave 11 the original Musgrave Gin is all about Africa & spices born out of the flavours and history of Africa and its ancient spice route. Musgrave Pink Gin has all of the spice and flavour of Musgrave 11 but is toned down to be gentler and less spicy and to bring out the floral of the rosehips and the infused rosewater.

Simone is a pro at developing brands – she has taken craft gin to the next level.

Simone surrounds herself with experts… from brand developers to distillers and sales.

A great product and brand is important, but Route to market & sales is everything.

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Bringing Mikkeller to South Africa

Mikkeller is a prestigious, internationally acclaimed craft beer brewery, who have collaborated with some of the world’s best breweries. Mikkeller has released more than 900 different beers in a wide variety of styles. Historically, the company has worked batch-to-batch (”gypsy brewing”), partnering with other brewers and creating unique recipes instead of opening its own production facility. Recently, Mikkeller acquired their first official brewery in San Diego, to add to their bars in cities across the world.

Mikkeller’s success is partly due to the brewers’ focus on creating challenging beers that test boundaries and where quality always comes before quantity. In other words, uncompromising beer. Mikkeller strives to brew beer that challenges the concept of good beer and to move people by using the best ingredients and working with the most talented and creative minds around the world. In doing so, they aim to make quality beers a serious alternative to wine and champagne when having gourmet food.

Myles Oelofse, from Nordic Craft, is the SA importer of Mikkeller. He grew up in Pietermaritzburg and left South Africa in 1995. After a brief stint in London, he lived in Copenhagen until returning to SA with his family two years ago. In 2000, Myles met Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller co-founder) and together with a group of friends, they started a beer tasting club. Already then, they wanted to taste good beer that wasn’t just your traditional Carlsberg pilsner. Mikkel and Kristian Klarup Keller started as a home brew operation in 2002 and almost immediately began winning home brew competitions and awards. They were named Danish brewery of the year and the fifth best brewery in the world in 2006

Myles was out running with Mikkel (co-founder of Mikkeller) one day, just before he moved back to SA in 2015, and Mikkel suggested that Myles could start importing his beer to SA. Myles, a University lecturer and researcher by training, liked the idea, and decided to give it a go as a hobby project alongside his real job. Little did he know about the amount of admin facing him, and he spent the next 18 months waiting for permits and licenses to fall into place.

The first Mikkeller beers were available in SA in January 2017. Since new tariff rules make it very difficult for importers to continually bring in new styles (a new permit is required for each new beer style), Nordic Craft had to choose a few Mikkeller beers that would be a good entry and introduction to the SA market, and that would also be available in future from Mikkeller. Mikkeller’s innovation means that they are continually developing new beers – they release more than a 100 new beers every year. Nordic Craft is therefore continuously working on bringing in new styles – coming soon is Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, perhaps their most famous beer, a Belgian Wild Ale, and a Witbier.

… explore the existing beer genres by using the best raw materials available. The refined product is the aim – not to keep down costs. This leads to very special brews by Mikkeller: Stouts with Vietnamese Kopi Luwak coffee, chipotle chili, lychee fruits – just to name a few.
… barrel age quality beers on exclusive wine barrels. For instance, the Belgian Ale ‘Mielcke and Hurtigkarl’ brewed for the Danish gourmet restaurant by the same name has had the pleasure of being barrel aged on exclusive Chateau d’Yquem barrels.
… cooperate with other breweries around the world, who inspires us and teach us new ways of doing things …

…work with people that don’t give a damn. There are so many wonderful, passionate and honest people in the beer world, why spend time on the rest? …